Let’s take a little break from food storage planning to talk about potato salad. Originally, this was going to be a post on drying potatoes so it’s a little heavy on the potato prep pictures. I still feel like there is some good tips here but all my potatoes ended up going into potato salad (none for the dehydrator).
Russet potatoes are super cheap potatoes. Lately I’ve been picking up 10 pound bags for well under $2. That means, I’m buying 2 bags at a time. The plan is to eat one bag and dry the other. It’s not a plan that is working out well since we eat a lot of potatoes. Over the years, I have developed some rather lazy techniques for cooking my potatoes.
Start with dumping your potatoes right into the pot. Regardless of how many pounds of potatoes we are cooking, I always use my large stock pot. Here there is probably about six pounds of potatoes. I don’t wash them or anything. However, I do pick out any potato that might be rotten. In this bunch there was one small shrivelly potato that I took out. It wasn’t officially rotten but it was not a great potato and since it was so small, I just pitched it.
Cover with water. You want no less than an extra inch of water, two if you can manage it. Bring the potatoes to a boil. This takes about 15 minutes. Then you want to cook for about another 15 minutes. Russets are mashing potatoes which means they turn to mush really quickly. Unless I am making mashed potatoes, I under cook them slightly. You want the centers to be firm but have a cooked potato texture.
Once cooked, dump the potatoes out into a large colander. Return them to the pot and cover with cold water. You may have to do this a few times to get the potatoes cool enough to handle. You don’t want to soak the potatoes for too long or they get mushy in not a good way. But you need them to stay wet. Here I just barely drained them and they are already looking fairly dry.
To peel the potatoes, you need them on the wet side. The peel, pretty much, come right off. The best part is that any “bad” spot also comes right off. This is not less time consuming than peeling the potatoes, necessarily, but I find I end up with a better product in the end. I don’t always peel my potatoes, just for potato salad. If I was going to dry these, I would just take to slicing them. Much of the peel just falls off as I cut the potato. The bad spots just come off. It’s really a nicer way of working.
I often just remove the loose skin and then have worked to get my family used to having the skins. We leave the skins on when making mashed potatoes. This works most of the time. Some crops of potatoes have awful skin so those have to go. The reason for keeping them is that most of the nutrition in a potato is in the skin.
Because of that, I save the peels (minus any bad spots).
And put them in the dehydrator (which is currently living in the kitchen closet because my husband took all my extension cords for fans). Once dry, they easily grind into a powder that can be added to soups or sauces for a little potato flavor and a nutrient boost.
Now if I had saved potatoes to dry, I would slice or shred them to add to the dehydrator. Coming next week, I’ll be sharing some recipes and more information on dried and drying potatoes.
Back to the potato salad. I cubed my potatoes. Because I am using russets, I opted to cut the pieces on the large size. They will break down a little as I stir in the remaining ingredients.
While prepping my potatoes, I cut up 6 slices of bacon and set them in the oven to bake. I went for a cake pan instead of a baking sheet because it was in the dish drainer. Feel free to use whatever works for you but you want something with sides to keep in the grease. Bake at 350.
To the potatoes, I added some dried minced onion. I like onion flavor in my potato salad but I hate raw onions in it. The dried onions work for me. I did start measuring the onion but once I thought I was done, I realized I wanted more so my measurement is not accurate. This is really to taste. Personally, I loved it. My family told me it was a shame I forgot to add onions so apparently it was not enough for them.
Bacon is nice and crispy. Dump it all into the potato salad (grease as well)
I actually added the grease first and gave it a little stir before I added in the rest (and scraped the pan) because I didn’t want it to slosh.
Now here is where I have failed you – I forgot to continue to take pictures.
I added a large carton of sour cream and some shredded cheese. I truly believe it needed more of both. Potatoes absorb liquid so when I went to serve my salad, it was on the dry side. That didn’t stop the family from devouring it.
I was on such a roll that I remembered to take a picture after I put the salad in the fridge to sit before dinner. I was too lazy to take it out for a better picture.
Like all potato salads the following recipe is really a guideline. Add as much or as little as makes you happy. This makes a huge bowl but we were barbecuing with friends. Feel free to make less (or more).
Baked Potato Salad
6 pounds potatoes
6 slices bacon
6 TB dried minced onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1.5 pound container sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
Bring potatoes to a boil, cook 15 minutes until fork tender but not fully cooked. Chop bacon and place on a baking sheet with sides. Bake at 350 until crispy.
Once potatoes are cooked, run under water to cool. Peel, if desired, and chop into large cubes. Place in large serving bowl. Add minced onion.
Once bacon is crispy, add it and drippings to potatoes. Stir to help get bacon evenly mixed into potatoes.
Add cheese and sour cream. Stir well.
Season to taste.
Chill if not serving right away.