Red White and Blue Potato Salad for the 4th of July


Red White and Blue Potato Salad for the 4th of July


I love potato salad, preferably tangy sweet-sour potato salad without a lot of glubby mayonnaise.


Fourth of July, Independence Day, backyard “barbecues” in my childhood always included potato salad. I thought it must be the most American, and patriotic, of dishes. Hot dogs, after all, are actually Germanic sausages. Frankfurters were named for the West German city of Frankfurt, wieners for the Austrian city of Vienna. And hamburgers were named for the North German city of Hamburg.


Of course, later I learned that potato salad is a specialty throughout central and northern Europe, from Germany to Sweden to Russia and all points in between. Ah well!


For fun, I now make Fourth of July potato salad in the colors of red, white and blue. That’s not to be confused with the French national colors “bleu, blanc et rouge” (blue, white and red), or the Russian colors, white, blue and red.


When I began this culinary prank, I used small red-skinned potatoes and purple-blue potatoes. But the red skins cook to a weak pinkish tan and the blue potatoes fade to pale violet. That’s pretty wimpy for the Fourth of July.


Now I go bold, as our national honor dictates: red from diced or sliced beets and blue from blueberries to perk up the white of the potatoes. The beets are stirred into the salad briefly before serving so they don’t stain it pink. Pink potato and beet salad is a specialty in Sweden and Russia, especially around the winter holidays.


The trick for making good potato salad is proper simmering, not hard boiling, of the potatoes to achieve firmness yet without an under-cooked crunch.


The recipe serves 6 to 10 as a side dish or appetizer.


3 pounds small-medium yellow-skinned or russet potatoes

1 large fresh beet or equivalent in canned whole beets

1/4 cup minced onion

4 tablespoons mayonnaise (“real” mayonnaise works best)

4 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 3/4 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup fresh blueberries


In large, uncovered pan with plenty of water, bring potatoes just to a simmer over medium heat. Do not boil them or cover the pan. If water begins boiling, pour in a little cold water to slow it. Swirl the pan occasionally to gently move the potatoes around. After 10-12 minutes, start testing a potato for doneness by piercing with a toothpick. Continue simmering until potatoes are just tender. Remove from the heat. Drain and cool.


In a separate pan of water, boil the raw beet, if used, unpeeled. When tender when pierced with toothpick, let it cool. Peel it. Alternatively, use canned whole beets of roughly similar total volume to a large beet. Cut in small dice, or if small canned beets, slice them 1/8 inch thick. Season with a little salt and 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Set aside.


Peel potatoes. Slice them 1/4 inch thick, first cutting in half lengthwise if large. Place in a large bowl for easy mixing.


Mince onion. Mix it in a small bowl with mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper until mayonnaise breaks up.


Stir mixture into potatoes, mixing gently with a large spoon or hands (use plastic gloves). Let sit for 10 minutes. Mix again and taste. If necessary, add salt, vinegar and/or sugar. The taste should be slightly salty (the potato will absorb more) and tangy sweet-sour.


Potato salad is best if made in advance and refrigerated a few hours or up to several days.


Shortly before serving, stir again. Taste and add salt, if needed. Stir in diced beets (drained) and part of blueberries. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with remaining blueberries.

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