Julia Child’s Simple Trick for Hands Down the Best Potato Salad Ever

This one little step helps create the creamiest potato salad.

<p>Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Getty Images</p>

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Wanda Abraham / Getty Images

I live in the Midwest, a place where potato salad is an important meal fixture all summer long. Growing up, my mom would often buy the vibrant yellow, creamy version from the deli counter or the vinegary German-style potato salad with bacon. We never had hotdogs, hamburgers, or anything grilled without potato salad, and I loved them.

I still do now as an adult. When the weather turns warm and the grill starts calling my name, I almost always make Julia Child’s potato salad recipe. It's the creamiest potato salad that doesn't call for that much mayonnaise. And her trick is as simple as saving some of the potato cooking liquid to stir back into the salad. Here's how.

<p>Simply Recipes / Sara Haas</p>

Simply Recipes / Sara Haas

How I Make Julia Child's Potato Salad

Here are the ingredients you need to make Julia's potato salad:

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar

  • 3/4 cup diced celery (2 to 3 ribs)

  • 1/2 cup diced shallots (2 large)

  • 1/4 cup chopped cornichons

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus extra for serving

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/3 cup sour cream

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with water to cover them by two inches and two tablespoons of salt. Set it over high heat to bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.

Scoop out and set aside 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Drizzle the potatoes with the vinegar and the reserved cooking liquid, and let them stand for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Think of this step like when you reserve pasta cooking water—the starches from the pasta leach into the water, which helps create a velvety, creamy sauce when added back to the pasta. The same is true for the liquid used to cook the potatoes. The potato starch in the water helps coat the cooked potatoes and creates a dressing that's smoother and creamier. It’s a simple step with a big impact!

<p>Simply Recipes / Sara Haas</p>

Simply Recipes / Sara Haas

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the celery, shallots, cornichons, chives, and dill and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Add three-quarters of the vegetable and herb mixture to the potatoes, reserving the rest to add right before serving.

Stir in the dressing, incorporating any liquid in the bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours to allow the flavors to meld.

When ready to serve, add the reserved vegetable mixture and the eggs to the salad and sprinkle with extra dill, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir gently to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

<p>Simply Recipes / Sara Haas</p>

Simply Recipes / Sara Haas

3 Tricks for Making Julia Child's Potato Salad

1. Slice the potatoes the same size. No need to grab a ruler, but do your best to slice the potatoes into similar sizes. This ensures they’ll cook at the same rate—no one likes raw or completely mushy potatoes in their potato salad.

2. Use a ladle. You’ll dirty a serving utensil, but I’ve found the easiest way to grab the cooking liquid is by using a ladle to transfer the hot water to a measuring cup. Pouring directly from the hot pot or dipping your measuring cup into the hot liquid can be a little dangerous, so don’t risk it.

3. Save some of the dressing. I like a creamy potato salad, but I also don’t want it so weighed down by the dressing that it feels heavy. I use about three-quarters of the dressing for mixing and save any extra for the next day’s leftovers to freshen it up before serving.

<p>Simply Recipes / Sara Haas</p>

Simply Recipes / Sara Haas

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.