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BBQ Fixin's: Old Fashioned Potato Salad


Digger in a Potato Field: February-Vincent van Gogh


I don’t think I’ve had potato salad for exactly 21 years. Let me tell you why…

When I was 24 years old, I took a summer job at my mother’s cousin’s hotel in the middle of Hillbilly Town, USA. It’s very near the epicenter of all things hillbilly, Branson Missouri. Before anyone writes me an email trying to convince me that “Branson just isn’t like that anymore”… I beg to differ. I don’t care how many “new developments”, “new shows”, “new acts”, “new airports” or “new clientele” that Branson may offer in this bright day of 2015… It is still for hillbillies, even rich hillbillies. By the way, one time I was at my father’s shopping center called… I can’t remember but I do remember that it had a Walmart. So there I was, shopping at Walmart and out of the Ozark blue, I felt someone/something behind me. I turned around and standing too close for my personal liking were two overall clad (with no shirts underneath) authentic inbreds. I know it’s not their fault that they are inbreds (it’s their parent's fault who are most likely brother and sister) but nonetheless it gives a girl quite a shock. The funny part is that they were about 7 feet tall and 6 feet wide with the typical characteristics of an inbred like misshapen heads and no teeth and they were shopping for Easter baskets which I thought was rather cute. Regardless, I’ve had nightmares about Branson ever since. But back to potato salad…

The only saving grace about these parts of Missouri is my mother’s cousin’s hotel, Big Cedar Lodge. If you want to experience the true outdoors in a beautiful setting… Big Cedar Lodge is the place. The owner, Johnny Morris and his chic dropdead gorgeous wife, Jeannie, have created an Adirondack style five-star retreat. Every single thing from the cottages to the restaurants to the grounds is pure Ozark perfection. So, here I was, 21 years ago, given the opportunity to take over and manage the little café on the property called Truman Cottage. Take a look…

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Not only did I create the menu but I did all of the prepping and cooking all by myself. I had free reign of the main restaurant’s kitchen and its supplies. With permission from the head chef, I drove my little golf cart through the property, over the hills and through the woods, to the best stocked kitchen I’ve ever seen. Any creation I imagined for the little café was on hand and available to me. I wanted the menu at Truman Cottage to reflect its heritage and offer the clients an authentic Branson style picnic lunch. Barbecue pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, tomato salad, coleslaw, sweet tea, peach cobbler and without fail every week three different types of potato salad.

Imagine trying to come up with three different types of potato salad every week. I really had to get creative. It’s easy and fun to start with the basics like German potato salad, potato salad with bacon, creamy potato salad, mustard based potato salad, potato salad with herbs and on and on and on. Every week I changed it up and got more inventive until I literally could not bear the sight of potato salad another day. That was 21 years ago and I’ve never had potato salad since but let me tell you, I am an expert on potato salad. Now that I have been shut off from American Midwest cooking for the past two years living in Paris, all I want is potato salad. I’m ready to give it its reprieve and try it again. This July 4th in Paris, I will have the true definition of a hillbilly Fourth of July complete with barbecue and the fixin’s including potato salad. Not fancy potato salad either, just my mother’s white trash potato salad complete with mayonnaise and pickles. Here is her recipe:
 
Old Fashion Potato Salad
5  pounds of Idaho Potatoes, peeled and cubed
3/4 cup sweet pickles, chopped into small pieces
1 stalk of celery, diced in small pieces
1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons mustard
1 1/2 to 2 cups mayonnaise
salt and pepper
Paprika for garnish
Cook the potatoes  in a large pan of water. Cover with lid. Bring to a boil.  Cook until tender but not very tender. Not like for mashed potatoes.  They need to still hold their shape.  About 10 minutes or so.
Drain, cool.
When potatoes are cool add the pickles, celery,  salt and pepper.  Taste to see how they taste now. Salt is important. Potatoes need a lot of salt.  Pepper also.
In a small bowl mix the mustard and mayonnaise together.  Sometimes I add a little of the sweet pickle juice to this...really good!  Pour this into the potato mixture.  You might add all of it or some of it or might need to make more.  It should be really coated with this mixture.  You be the judge of it.  Some people like to add hard boiled eggs and some minced onion to this but in our family we didn't.  You can garnish with the paprika for a nice touch of color.  Enjoy.... Anne
 
Just for fun here are a few other of my favorite potato salad recipes, some fancy, some country, some French yet all delicious! Click on the name of the potato salad below to get the recipe!
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
Stay tuned for the next BBQ Fixin's: Peach Cobbler

A toute!


*Something you don’t know about me? The owners, executives and chefs at Big Cedar Lodge could not have been more supportive towards my culinary career. They suggested that I apply to the CIA. No, not that one… But the better CIA that involved food and pastries… The Culinary Institute of America. I sent off my application complete with a stellar recommendation from the head chef of Big Cedar Lodge and lo and behold I was actually accepted. I was two minutes from gearing up to start my culinary adventure at The Culinary Institute of America in New York when I found out I was pregnant with little Gracie. So no CIA for me. I like to remind Gracie of that fact when she’s complaining about dinner… “Really Gracie, the Chicken Cordon Bleu is a little dry? Well, had I been able to go to the CIA I’m sure that the chicken would be perfection.” And then she likes to remind me that “it’s not her fault that I chose to have a baby instead of following my dream.” It’s a very mature relationship we have and I wouldn’t change one single thing.

 

 

24 comments:

  1. Ha! Love! Both potato salad and chirpy daughter:)

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  2. I am giggling. Only you m'dear could weave an encounter with The Hilbilly Brothers ("We could git her for our wife!"), casually mentioning having been accepted to the CIA and Van Gogh into a fabulous post - one that left me really wanting to eat potato salad and a good thing too since my Honey put something like 20 potato plants in our garden and we will soon have them covering every counter in our kitchen! Although, I don't think that I will be attempting the fancy, all micro-greeny recipe at the end. No, no - just bring on the bacon. :)

    Sending so much Love to you and Strength (as in that 100 bottle kit of Haelan 951),
    H

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  3. I adore potato salad, probably a bit too much, but with all due respect sweet pickles in it would be my worst nightmare.Some great looking recipes here, though, that I'll look forward to trying. Can you believe the 4th is coming up so fast?

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  4. I love potato salad. Alas, I've become so allergic to potatos that I could go into shock the next time I would be so stupid as to eat my absolute favorite food. The Hotel IS GORGEOUS--what an amazing summer. xoxo Mary

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  5. As a new devotee I am still getting to know your world, todays glimpse into the past was a joy, thanks for the recipe!

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  6. Thanks, Ellie, I look forward to trying all of these potato salads.

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  7. Thank you for the many potato salad recipes! Will help to feed the hordes over the fourth! xoxo

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  8. OMG! A very good friend of mine used to be a really successful salesman for Ron Junge in wine at the Wine Center for a couple of years when we were really young until he "defected" to open his own very successful wine store in St. Louis. I even worked with him for a while at the Wine Center and worked for Joanne on some project at BassPro and we used to go out to Joanne's parent's house for some reason - maybe to deliver things?. So many years ago! Can barely remember. Their children were just tiny back then - that's how long ago it was!! She used to tell me about her mother's oyster dressing at Thanksgiving or Christmas? But we've been to Big Cedar lodge many times and my brother and I have always taken our children there and love it. That's the ONLY reason we go near Branson. I remember Branson when the main street was a two lane road to Silver Dollar City and last summer I actually did have to go down there for a basketball tournament for one of my sons and I ended up at a Wal-Mart and called my sisters and told them I had just seen the decline of civilization as we know it and they're all in Wal-Mart!!!!!! It was very scary and I told my son I was NOT going back down there!!! I couldn't even stand staying in the hotel which was supposed to be one of the nicer ones nor could I eat at the restaurants!! My oldest son's senior trip this year was to Branson and he declined to go and frankly, I didn't blame him.:) Actually, most of the students skipped the trip! Anyway, my grandmother made the BEST potato salad!! My mother's isn't bad either. Mine is acceptable.

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    1. Silver Dollar City! Fire in the hole! XOXO Ellie

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  9. I marinate my potato overnight in kind of an Italian dressing and then add thinly sliced radishes etc the next day with half sour cream and half mayo - delish. I am happy to report that I tried your corn casserole recently - delish too. I used a red pepper, a sweet onion and light cream. A nice way to serve summer corn on the cob without the mess - especially for company. Big Cedar Lodge looks wonderful. Take good care.... Olivia.

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  10. I love your irreverent comments about Branson. I've actually never been there but I've often thought if I did, I would discover the very same thing. I know people that go there so I consider the sources. You're always refreshingly honest. I like that! Thank you for the potato salad links but I'm not a potato salad person either. I will look forward to that peach cobber though.

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  11. Sounds like you met Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee at Walmart! Actually it sounds like you met Harrell and Darrell - identical twins here in town who drove "The Honey Wagon" and pumped out septic tanks. They, too, wore overalls and were missing the exact same teeth. A sight to behold, them and the honey wagon.
    By the way . . . that lodge is spectacular!!

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  12. My eighth grade trip was to Meramec caverns in the Ozarks and I thought it was so cool. I was probably 14 and I guess I was a hillbilly, even though I was from a town close to St. Louis. Maybe I was just a hick. Maybe I'm still a hick but I think
    I've grown up into a worldly, intelligent, (debatable, that's for sure!) Paris-loving, sophisticated, fashion-loving, epicurean who loves to cook, travel, watch foreign films, and devour British t.v. on PBS. Maybe Ferguson has helped given Missouri a bad rap.
    There's lots of really good people there, though.
    Sheila in Port Townsend

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    1. I love Meramec caverns also. So fun. I don't think Missouri has a bad rap, just Branson.

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    2. Branson got ruined for me when they brought in these theaters with the entertainers from days-gone-by. They found it easier to stay in one place at a theater than to travel around the country performing at casinos and state fairs and the like. With tour buses bringing in droves of people, the businesses sprung up like crazy to cater to them. Branson used to be just a small town with a few cute, Ozarky charming tourist places. They've ruined it now and you can't go back. I guess it gave people jobs there. But is that really the case; because so many people had to move there to fill the positions that were created.
      Sheila in Port Townsend

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  13. P.S. Doesn't anyone else put hard-cooked eggs in their potato salad? It's what I grew up with and it's yummy.
    Sheila in Port Townsend

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  14. Hi could eat a bowl of every recipe right now, best not, pass on Branson, touche' on Big Cedar Lodge.....my mouth is watering for these potato salads, the French Potato Salad reminds me a bit of warm Greek potatoe with onion, olive oil poured on while hot...my mom's best friend from Tarpon Springs, Fl made this every time I came home to visit, with all the olives, trimmings, great homegrown tomatoes that tast like a tomato, feta cheese, and more! YUMMMM, I am hungry and chubby, no potato salad....its 100 degrees here today.....sometimes makes me not want to eat.....lol....xoxo

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  15. Leslie in OregonJune 17, 2015 at 4:07 PM

    Your mother's potato salad recipe is the same as mine. My recipe came from my mother, who added hard-boiled eggs and chopped green onion to the mix. She got her recipe from her mother, who was the child of a Swedish immigrant family that settled in upper Wisconsin. We always used Grandma's not too sweet/not too sour pickles (and some of their juice) and homemade mustard and mayonnaise in this potato salad...nothing like it! (I, being a terrible cook, certainly have not been able to replicate it.) I've tried many other kinds of potato salad but keep returning to this version, using a bit less mayonnaise. What kind of mustard and mayonnaise does your mother like to use? Best wishes on your return to potato salad this July 4, Leslie (White Trash)

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    1. My grandmother, whose parents were both Danish immigrants, used to make her "famous" Potato salad in anticipation of our visits. Every single time. She, too, used sweet pickle juice in her recipe. It must be a Scandanavian specialty!

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  16. Oooh, a potato salad recipe without onions, I cannot wait to try it! Thanks for sharing. Big Cedar Lodge looks magnificent and almost makes me want to leave New England for a week . . .
    I enjoy your blog so much Ellie. You are a multifaceted gem of a woman and you make the world a richer place :)
    - Karen

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  17. Here is my Branson story. I live in Kansas City and my daughter was in a dance competition at the Hilton in Branson. My girlfriend and I shared a room with our girls and for HOURS sat in a freezing, dark banquet room watching one dance routine after another. I couldn't take it anymore and decided to go to the upscale shopping center that was right next to the hotel. After making a purchase I asked the sales associate if she could point me in the direction of a book store. "Book store? I don't think there's any bookstores in Branson," she said and I thought she had to be joking.

    She wasn't.

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  18. YOU have done SO MUCH in YOUR LIFE..................you just keep on pulling these punches that are OUTSTANDING!Keep them coming............WE love hearing all about YOUR LIFE!WE really DO!
    XOXO

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  19. The inbreds - you had me howling ! The ones here have blond hair , big black glasses , Lululemon uniforms . As always , love you , A

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