Choosing the right potato for your salad is all about your personal preference. If you prefer a creamy potato salad sans the gobs of mayo, go for russet (baking) potatoes. When boiled, they break down a bit and their starch adds to the overall texture of the finished dish. They also absorb dressing more easily.
For a firmer potato with creamy dressing, moderately waxy potatoes like Yukon gold or red potatoes hole their shape and don’t break down as quickly. This will provide a great contrast of textures.
You want to maintain uniformity in potato pieces to ensure even cooking. If you have pieces that vary drastically in sizes, you will have some undercooked and some overcooked pieces.
With that said, do not overcook your potatoes, unless you want to make mashed potatoes. You want to heat the water and potatoes to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and keep an eye on the pot. When the pieces are just tender, drain the water from the pot. The residual heat will keep the pieces cooking a bit longer.
The crunchy element of your potato salad should come from the celery or pickles you mix in, not from undercooked potatoes. Undercooked potatoes are often a result of adding potato pieces to boiling water instead of warming them up in cold water. By doing so you run the risk of having only the outsides cooked before the insides are done all the way through.
When foods come straight from the fridge, the flavors are often muted. To combat this, cook potatoes in well-salted water and make sure that you use a boldly flavored dressing.
After you’ve mastered prepping your potatoes, you can experiment with different flavor combinations. Here are a few ideas:
- Seasoned Rice Vinegar / Toasted Sesame Oil / Green Onion / Red Pepper / Jalapeno
- Bacon / Mayo / Spicy Brown Mustard / Dill Pickles / Garlic / Celery / Green Onions
- Sour Cream / White Wine Vinegar / Fresh Dill / Pickles / Shallots / Smoked Salmon
- Cider Vinegar / Pickled Jalapenos / Cilantro / Corn / Green Onions
- Horseradish / Mayo / Bacon / Chives / Radish Slices