I never knew my grandmother—she died before I was born. Her real name was Annunziata (grand, isn’t it?) but she didn’t use it. She went by quite a few names: her stage name was “Babe” (the Irish Nightingale) but most people called her “Joanne”. I have no idea where that came from.
At any rate by all accounts she was enormous fun and a great cook. This is one of the few recipes of hers that I have and now I’m sharing it with you!
Most recipes for potato salad call for you to boil the potatoes in their jackets and peel, slice, and marinate them while they’re still hot. This is a pain (both literally and figuratively) and I’ve discovered several ways that I think are equally good for treating the potatoes. Don’t peel them and then boil them—they’ll be mushy and watery. One good solution to the problem is peeling, slicing, and microwaving the potatoes. This works fine if you’re just making a little. But my favorite way is peeling, slicing, and steaming the potatoes in a bamboo steamer until they’re just barely done. Try it out.
My Grandmother’s Potato Salad
4 medium potatoes
3 strips bacon, sliced crossways
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, washed and diced (optional)
½ cup cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
½ tsp celery seed
Black pepper to taste
½ cup mayonnaise
- Cook the potatoes, see directions above. The potato slices should be a little over 1/4 inch thick.
- While the potatoes are cooking, saute the bacon in a skillet over medium heat.
- When the bacon has just browned, add the onions and celery and saute briefly, about one minute—the vegetables should still have some crunch.
- Add the vinegar, salt, sugar, celery seed, and pepper. Stir and remove from the heat.
- When the potatoes have just barely cooked (you should just be able to put a fork in them—do not overcook!), remove the potatoes to a large bowl and add the vinegar and bacon dressing.
- Mix thoroughly but very gently—don’t break up the slices too much.
- Let the potato salad cool and season a little until it’s about room temperature.
- Gently mix in the mayonnaise.
This potato salad is best if allowed to season for a few hours in the refrigerator prior to serving (but it can be served at room temperature if you’re desperate).