Potato salad, Oak Cliff style
My dad’s side of the family loves hard-boiled eggs. They fold them into their salads, plop them into their giblet gravy, and whip them into deviled eggs, dishes that were all served at family gatherings in Oak Cliff when I was young
Now, I’m fine with hard-boiled eggs but don’t eat them nearly as often as my family does. Indeed, it seems that it’s only in the spring after Easter that I have them on hand. If they’re offered to me, I usually won’t refuse them. But they’re not something that I take an active role in keeping around.
When I was writing my second cookbook, I considered adding a potato salad my great-grandmother and grandmother had made. Yes, it included hard-boiled eggs. At that time, however, the combination of potatoes and eggs didn’t appeal to me, and I decided to forgo sharing the recipe at that time.
A few years later, however, I shared an old Texas potato salad with nasturtiums, which called for hard-boiled eggs. While I was still hesitant about them being in my salads, for the sake historical accuracy, I followed the recipe as written and kept the eggs.
Over the years, this side has become a favorite, and while the colorful flowers take it over the top, the base salad, eggs and all, is a solid representation of the form.
When I had some hard-boiled eggs on hand recently, I was torn about how to use them. I considered making deviled eggs, but I had plans to cook a brisket and wanted to serve it with potato salad. Since I couldn’t find nasturtiums, I decided to look at my family’s eggy version once again.
The original family recipe called for potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, dill pickles, onion, pickle juice, and a dressing that featured Durkee’s dressing. The latter, if you’re unfamiliar, is essentially a blend of mayonnaise and mustard.
While I followed the original ingredient list almost exactly, Durkee’s is a challenge to find so I adapted the dressing a bit. For color, I swapped out the white onion for red. Lastly, I exchanged some pickled jalapeños for some of the dill pickles for more of a kick, though this it’s still terrific without this change.
There are only a few ingredients in this potato salad, but the balanced zest of the dressing with the abundance of bright pickles and snappy onions make the salad seem more complex than it is.
It comes together quickly. And after I took my first tangy, creamy, chunky bite, I was back at my great-grandmother’s eating a plate piled high with food, listening to my family laugh and tell stories while we enjoyed our dinner in a house across the street from Kiest Park.
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Potato salad, Oak Cliff style
For the salad:
- 3 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 cup chopped dill pickles
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons pickle juice
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- Peel the potatoes then cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. Place the potatoes in a large pot with the salt, cover with cold water, bring to a boil on high, then turn the heat down to medium and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse and turn off the heat.
- Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl. Taste and add salt as needed. Add to the potatoes the egg, red onion, and dill pickles. Stir until well combined with the potatoes.
- To make the dressing, stir together the mayonnaise, pickle juice, mustard, ketchup, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, celery salt, and turmeric.
- Add the dressing to the potatoes and stir to evenly combine. Taste and make any adjustments as desired. Chill before serving.
My Mother, born in the late 1920’s and grew up in Nebraska during the depression, on a Hog Farm, with a truck garden and acres of corn for the hogs. She was the oldest of 7 brothers and sisters. She got a job with an airline as a stewardess on, I believe American Airlines. Traveled all over the place, married my father (in the Navy), and we were stationed in Morocco and Guam as well as other places. My mother new how to make potatoes 20+ ways. She always made her potatoe salad by boiling the potatoes whole, until tender. The skin just comes off after that. Allow to cool slightly to be able to handle but still hot. Take the skin off, cut them up, mix with the dressing so the still hot potatoes suck up all of the good stuff. Especially the juices of jalapeno’s, pickles, onions, Miracle Whip, mustard, etc. The hard boiled eggs where added with more of the sauce mix and more fresh chopped vegetables right before serving. The best of the best.
Susan–Thank you for sharing your memories and your mother’s method of making potato salad!
I always have to buy a jar of Durkee at Thanksgiving. It’s great on leftover turkey sandwiches. Unfortunately that’s about all I use it for and end up wasting half of it.
Ron–Well, now you can put some in your potato salad, too!
Love hearing your stories. And happy to see your OC roots! I grew up and still live in North Oak Cliff. And as a lot of recipes there’s 100 versions, I can taste your family’s. And I laughed I would never attempt making potato salad without boiled eggs! I would be the latest family gossip. Thank you
Terry–You’re welcome! Oak Cliff forever!