If you want to learn how to make Southern potato salad, there’s no substitute for time in the kitchen with Mama—unless you can get your hands on her Bossy Recipes, which we have done. (You’re welcome.)
Mama’s a handful, but she knows what she’s doing in the kitchen. And when it comes to classic Southern potato salad, she’s the queen. None of that wishy-washy “some prefer to add celery while others do not” nonsense. There’s no celery in Mama's classic recipe for potato salad. Period. And brace yourself: There’s no Duke's mayo either because Daddy likes Kraft. Hey, don’t yell at us—yell at Mama. (Actually, we really, really don’t recommend that unless you can run really, really fast.) Tie on your apron and let's start peeling those spuds.
5-6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
Mama Says: “You want them not too big and not too small—just pretty good-sized. And use red potatoes. They make the best potato salad because they don’t mush up.”
4 eggs, boiled
Mama Says: “You’ll only need 2 of them, but Daddy will eat 2 before you finish, so cook 4.”
Mama Says: “I guess at it.”
Mama Says: “Well, of course.”
Mount Olive (And Only Mount Olive) Pickle Relish
Mama Says: “Why Mount Olive? Because that’s the one I like. How much? Just the right amount.”
1 TBS finely chopped onion
Mama Says: “Nothing ruins potato salad quicker than big ol’ chunks of onion. Chop it FINE! And find you a sweet onion like a Vidalia, not an ol' strong one. I despise a strong onion.
(We counted 2 ½ slightly heaping SERVING spoons.)
- Boil eggs while peeling and cubing potatoes.
Mama Says: “Make sure you don’t cube them too big or they won’t cook through, and be sure to cut off any bad spots you see.
- Place potatoes in a Dutch oven; cover with water; add salt.
Mama: “I guess at salt. Start with a good sprinkle. I always take a fork and stir the salt up in my pot. As quick as that water goes to boiling, reduce the heat to medium-high. You’ve got to keep watch on a pot of potatoes or they’ll turn to pure-D mush.” [Mama feels strongly about mush.]
- Drain potatoes.
Mama Says: “I’d just drain them in a colander and put them back in the same Dutch oven I cooked them in, but if you want to dirty up every dish in the kitchen, why, go right ahead.”
- Drain and dice 2 boiled eggs; add them to potatoes, but don’t stir together yet. Give remaining 2 eggs to Daddy and tell him to get out of the kitchen—now.
Mama Says: “Did you know that if an egg is fresh, it’ll be hard to peel?”
[She rolls each egg back and forth on the rim of her sink to crack it.]
- Add what appeared to be 3 ½ TBS pickle relish to potatoes and eggs, but don’t stir together yet. Taste potatoes; adjust salt; sprinkle with pepper.
- Add onion, but (you guessed it), don’t stir yet.
- Add mayo and GENTLY fold mixture together, stirring from the bottom up.
Mama Says: “Stir it any other way, and you’ll mush the potatoes.” [Again with the mush.]
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge (although it tastes fabulous when it’s warm).
- Consider rebelling against Mama and using light Duke's so you won’t have to spend the rest of your life on a treadmill.
Ready to try some great Southern Living kitchen-tested potato salad recipes, including super-popular Fipps Family Potato Salad pictured above (because it's the closest we could find to Mama's)? Don’t worry. We won’t tell her you strayed.
The kitchen's not the only place where Mama's bossy:
Pay attention, Junior. If you don't get those jeans out of the floor, the next time you see them, they'll be on a rack at the church yard sale.