DIY: Fourth of July’s guilty pleasure

Potato salad is a July 4 holiday favorite. This basic recipe is both easy and delicious.
Potato salad is a July 4 holiday favorite. This basic recipe is both easy and delicious. The Fresno Bee

Every holiday has its special food. Halloween has candy corn; Thanksgiving has turkey; Arbor Day has … Anyway, my point is that most people seem to have associations between holidays and foods.

To prove this fact, I asked several friends what they ate on July Fourth. I expected answers filled with grilled meats (ribs, burgers, hot dogs, tri-tip); and cold food and drinks (ice cream, lemonade and beer.) And I wasn’t wrong — there was definitely a strong sprinkling of all those foods across answers. But there was one common food I wasn’t expecting — the one that, despite the variances in answers, kept coming back. And given a moment to think, I realized this food was definitely on my must-have Fourth of July holiday table — so much so, that I beg my mom to make it every year. The dark horse winner: potato salad.

In recent years, what with the popularity of protein diets, the much-adored potato salad has become somewhat of a guilty pleasure. It’s the perfect cold salad for any summer potluck, and when done well, is the first thing to disappear. In fact, according to CNN Money, Americans are “540% more likely to eat (potato salad) on July 4 than on an average day.”

With Independence Day quickly approaching, it’s not too soon to start planning what kind of potato salad to make. To egg or not to egg? Are you a black olive, celery and dill lover, or are you less of a chunky fan? And while there are literally thousands of potato salad recipes on the Internet — from red potato salad with bacon to a salt and vinegar based version and everything in between — I offer a treat straight from the table of Aunt Pat.

Not my Aunt Pat. My friend Toni Machado’s Aunt Pat, who used to make the potato salad for The Frosty in Coarsegold in the early 1980s. This well-loved recipe is not only simple, but delicious — and it finally reveals the secret ingredient to the salad’s local fame. As always, feel free to get creative. Celery, black olives, diced dill pickles and crisp-cooked bacon are all great add-ons to this basic recipe.

Aunt Pat’s potato salad

▪ 5 lbs potatoes

▪ 6 boiled eggs (grated)

▪ 1 bunch green onion (diced)

▪ 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

▪ 1 cup sour cream

▪ 3 tablespoons yellow mustard

▪ 1-1 1/2 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoning Salt (to taste)

▪ 2-3 teaspoons pepper

▪ Dill pickle juice to taste (as desired)

Peeling Potatoes the easy way: Clean the potatoes and using a paring knife, score a bracelet-like line around the center of each (making sure the ends of the line meet). Place the potatoes in a pot, fill with water and set to boiling. The potatoes are finished cooking when the centers are soft when poked with a fork. Remove from the water, and let cool slightly on the counter top. To remove the skins, simply pull gently on each at the score line, and they should slide right off. It’s not the prettiest process, and must be done carefully as the potatoes will still be quite warm — but you save time, energy and more potato.

Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add grated egg and diced green onions. In a separate bowl, add mayonnaise, sour cream, yellow mustard, pepper and (former secret ingredient) Lawry’s Seasoning Salt. Mix until well blended. Add a splash of dill pickle juice, as desired. Add dressing to potato/egg/onion mix.

Eat with abandon. Enjoy!