Five Pounds Potato Salad

by Min Merrell
how to make potato salad

You’ve found the right recipe if you’re looking to feed a crowd on the patio. Five Pounds Potato Salad is my go-to big batch spring/summer salad with a mustardy dressing that just seems right for any all-American grilling or barbecue menu. Add a five-pound bag of all-purpose white or red potatoes and some celery to your grocery list and you probably have everything else you need already in the kitchen. My grandmother, Jutta Engelhardt Almy (1909 to 2005) of Carlsbad, New Mexico had four kids to feed, two of them oversized ravenous boys, and a hungry husband. She is the inspiration for this recipe.

Gram was a hardworking, efficient cook with lots of kitchen tricks up her sleeve. She was an expert cake baker and a believer in fresh vegetables. She always had a chilled pitcher of Kool-Aid in the fridge and she never made us feel bad for pouring ketchup over every “new” dish she wanted us to try. We spent a lot of time talking and laughing at her kitchen table. One time I remember our conversation was interesting enough for a curious roadrunner to hop up on the back step and peer in at us through the screened door. We all stopped talking but kept our mouths open in surprise. He stayed a while and then ran off.  

Gram’s secret to fantastic potato salad, which I’m so thankful to have paid attention to, was to pour boiling water over the chopped onions and let them sit for a few minutes. The hot water softened and sweetened the onion flavor. It works like a charm. Then she’d drain most of the hot water off the onions and blend in the mayonnaise and mustard. The wet onions made the dressing easily slide all over the potatoes. It was always yellow mustard-style potato salad with plenty of celery and dill pickles, maybe a little chopped hard-boiled egg. After years of being seduced by every kind of worldly mustard, yellow mustard is a relief and a welcome home.

This big recipe is plenty for feeding 15 or so hungry family members and friends.

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