Once upon a time my favorite friend Heather invited me over for a barbecue. She whipped out a giant vat of potato salad that she had made and it blew my freakishly adorable mind-space. Number one, because she made just enough for me, and maybe a tablespoon or two for the rest of the guests. You know, I love good potato salad. I do. Don't judge me. Secretly you do too. I bet I'm not the only one who has it as a midnight snack instead of cheesecake. Well. Maybe only if there isn't cheesecake in the house. Number two, It was perfect. It had just the right balance of zing and zang. The best part...
It had bacon in it. Yeah. Bacon. Then she confessed to me her ultimate secret for the best potato salad ever. The secret ingredient she used, besides the bacon fat in the dressing, was also the use of pickle brine in the dressing. That's when things got crazy! I started to squeal gleefully! I pulled out ceremonial head-garb and started singing...The Heather and Tess Ya-ya Sisterhood dancing ensued as I confessed that I too had been using pickle juice in my potato salad dressing for years! After we removed our ceremonial head-garb and stopped dancing, we continued comparing recipe similarities, and it always came back to the pickle juice being the secret ingredient. Ya know...and the bacon. Confession...I have used pickle brine in my potato salad since I was in my twenties, So, since last week...give or take a few decades. This is just a brilliant use of an otherwise "useless" liquid that generally gets thrown away in the trash anyway! I couldn't wrap my head around the bacon fat for my clients, but for the family barbecue, it was absolutely spot-on!
Several years later as I was developing a potato salad recipe for catering and personal chef events, this loaded potato salad just kept appearing in my universe. It was a sign. It needed to be part of what I just served regularly. It is a potato salad without eggs (though you could add those if you wanted to do so) and it is a potato salad that has to always use dill pickle juice instead of vinegar in the sauce. Don't ask me why...except that the saltiness of the pickle brine with the potatoes give it a punch of flavor! To give balance to the tangy zip of the pickle juice, I use sweet pickle relish as well. It seems weird, but it works! Yes! This is a banquet size recipe that will make 60 servings. Obviously it can be cut back if you need to do so...but it will ensure that there is something for your guests to eat after you've had your "taste".
Tess' Loaded Potato Salad
yield 60 ½ cup servings
5 pounds red potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes, skin on, washed
2 1/2 cups mayonnaise
¾ cup dill pickle juice OR white vinegar
1 tsp black pepper, freshly cracked
1 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme, ground
1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
1/2 tsp curry powder
1T minced garlic
1/4 lb bacon crumbles
1 cup green onions, sliced thin
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
In a large pot of salted water, add potatoes and cook until just fork tender. Remove from boiling water and cool. Combine remaining ingredients in a large 2 gallon bowl. Mix with potatoes, adjusting seasoning as needed, chill well.
Serve with your favorite stuff...or just eat it at midnight in your jammies and slippers in front of the open fridge door. I'm not going to judge you. Just make sure to wear the ceremonial head-garb. Xoxo!
There you go.
Always My Very Best,
I use dill pickles and the juice in mine too. We don't care for sweet pickles. The last I made I omitted the boiled eggs just because. My husband still loved it. My mother would have thought that was awful though. HA!
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