My grandmother, Althaé, had a lot of a personality. So much personality, in fact, that I was hesitant to name Théa after her for fear that T might be too much to handle. Ma Ma, as I called her, was known to the rest of the world as Toot (pronounced like “foot”). She passed away when I was still in grade school, but there are bits and pieces that I remember.
Ma Ma always spoke her mind. She had jet black hair and gave big hugs. She believed in premonitions. She never went anywhere on an airplane. She always had a coke ready in the fridge for when my cousins and I came to visit. She loved a good garage sale and had wads of one dollar bills stashed all over the house. She said things like “can’t sleep all the day” and “don’t make a useless trip” and, my personal favorite, “cheated your ass out of a fart” if someone belched. She would tell us not to play with the crawfish or crabs before they were cooked because she believed that seafood should be “contented” before being boiled.
And she cooked. Lots of Cajun food, lots of Cajun-Italian food, and cookies. She taught my dad how to make potato salad, and he in turn taught me. You’ll love this recipe. There is no measuring. It’s all by feel. This is comfort food to me. What’s strangest about this salad is that I can’t stand hard boiled eggs or mustard or mayonnaise and that is exactly what’s in this salad.
The only rule of thumb that I can give you is to use approximately the same number of eggs as potatoes. Maybe one extra egg depending on your taste. I started this batch with four potatoes and four eggs. Boil both. Your potatoes should be tender but not falling apart (my bad, I wasn’t watching this time). While your potatoes are cooling, peel your hard boiled eggs and separate the yolks from the whites.
You’ll also need to chop up your potatoes and egg whites to bite sized bits once they are cool enough to handle.
Smash the yolks in a bowl.
Add a splash of vinegar and mix until you have a paste. I know it looks gross but stay with me.
Add mustard and stir until creamy.
Add a little mayonnaise and stir some more.
Begin adding chopped potatoes to your egg/mustard/mayo mixture, tossing the potatoes to cover. Add more mayonnaise as needed, then toss in your chopped up egg white.
Season with salt and pepper. If you are my dad, you’ll also add some chopped green olives. He insists that this makes the potato salad. Other people might want to add pickles. I say add whatever you like. Make it fun.
And while you are making it fun, make yourself some fried chicken. Good fried chicken is a little labor intensive. It needs to soak overnight, either in a brine or in buttermilk. Rob brined the chicken overnight first this time, then soaked it in buttermilk all day until it was time to fry. Because it was so hot, we fried our chicken outside in a fryer.
Yes, we are those people. We also fry a turkey at Thanksgiving. In the snow. Judge all you want, but you’ve never had turkey until you’ve had a fried turkey. Just saying.
Anyway, try this technique out for fried chicken. Make it in advance and bring it to an outdoor concert or a park. Bring a cooler and pack along some potato salad and watermelon. Summer is already half over. Time to get a move on with the summer traditions.