I’ve always had mixed feelings about potato salad. I know it’s a summer staple, and you basically can’t have a barbecue, picnic, or cookout without potato salad, but I’ve just never been a big fan of the texture — specifically the big chunks of boiled potatoes.
I love mashed potatoes, though, and that’s why my interest was piqued when I saw that the Pioneer Woman’s potato salad is basically just mashed potatoes with potato salad seasoning mixed in.
Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s “Perfect Potato Salad” recipe might as well be called Summer Mashed Potatoes, because she starts with boiled Russet potatoes, and then turns them into mashed potatoes by running them through a ricer to make them extra smooth and fluffy. She even leaves the skin on.
“I scrubbed them really, really clean,” she says in the accompanying video, “because I don’t like peeling potatoes.”
Once she has her boiled, riced potatoes, she mixes them up with mayonnaise, mustard — you can use Dijon, Ree says, but she likes the bright yellow stuff — green onions, dill, salt and pepper, paprika, sliced pickles, pickle juice, and sliced hard-boiled eggs.
“I really like potato salad with tons of different things added,” Ree said. “It just makes it so much more interesting”
(Image credit: Courtesy of Food Network)
The idea of just making mashed potatoes and calling it potato salad appeals to me, as a person who is not a potato salad aficionado. But as I was writing this article my sister walked in, and my sister loves potato salad; she’s on a constant quest for new potato salad recipes. (Her favorite is probably Ina Garten’s lobster and potato salad, but that one includes a pound a half of lobster — as much lobster as potatoes, actually — so it’s not exactly a dish for every weekend.)
My sister is a potato salad purist, and when she looked over my shoulder at the picture of the Pioneer Woman’s potato salad, she recoiled in visible horror.
“That’s insane!” she cried, visibly aghast. “The best part of the potato salad is the hunks!”
I think she would have been less shocked if the recipe had called for a handful of gummy bears.
“The Pioneer Woman mashes it up so it’s smooth, but she puts in all the potato salad seasonings,” I explained.
“That is not a potato salad,” my sister declared. “Without the hunks, it’s not potato salad. I would not eat that.”
So it looks like the Pioneer Woman’s perfect potato salad might be a contentious dish to bring to your next get-together. If you love mashed potatoes, you’ll probably love the Pioneer Woman’s take on smooth, fluffy potato salad. But be warned that you might get some pushback if your friends or relatives were expecting to see big potato chunks in their salad. I’m still going to try it, though.
What do you think of the Pioneer Woman’s potato salad?