|Texas potato salad, front and center. © Ryan Schierling|
I live in Texas, by way of Washington state, Virginia, Colorado and, originally, Kansas. There are those that believe you can never be a Texan unless you were born in Texas, damn it all to hell what it says on your driver's license or what your accent sounds like or what you *think* you know about barbecue.
To those Texans, I say, keep your silly insular pride and your Great Republic of Texas talk.
I may not be a Texan by definition, but I know what good barbecue is because I've eaten a truck-load of it, in a lot of different places. I know what good barbecue is because I've eaten some of the finest smoked meat on the planet. I also know what good barbecue is because I've eaten bad barbecue. I know how to make good barbecue, and I know how to make good barbecue sides. Put that in your pit and smoke it.
Cue the potato salad.
It is a sidekick, but some might call it the sidekick. It is Batman's Robin, Cheech's Chong, Brain's Pinky. I might go so far as to say it is Mr. Roarke's Tattoo.
It's also a staple with a million variations. Eggs or no eggs? Mayo or mustard? Celery or celery seed? Green onions or white or none at all? A perfect candidate for another Foie Gras Hot Dog 5 days, 5 ways.
Well, since we're in Texas, I'm starting with Texas potato salad and that is the fluffy, almost mashed potato-like version from the famed Salt Lick. No, really, it's proper "Texas Potato Salad," or so says my circa 1996 Kansas City Barbecue Society Cookbook. Credit is given to "Great Chefs, Great BBQ," but it is the Salt Lick recipe to the letter.
You'll find people asking for it on food forums all over the internet, and at one point there was an instructional video posted on YouTube with Salt Lick chef/owner Hisako Roberts herself showing exactly how the famous potato salad was made (though that video seems to have disappeared...). It is a very good potato salad, and very different from anything I'd ever had before it.
So, without further ado, Texas Potato Salad.
(Oh, and all the people out there on the internets telling you that "it's the marinated onions that make all the difference..." are exactly right. Well, that and the Salt Lick barbecue sauce.)
Texas Potato Salad
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 c. dill pickle juice
5 large baking potatoes
1 tsp. celery seeds
1/3 c. barbecue sauce
1/3 c. vinaigrette salad dressing
1/2 (to 1) c. mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Now, keep in mind that "barbecue sauce" means "Salt Lick barbecue sauce," but you can use whatever you want. It just won't taste like Salt Lick potato salad, I mean, Texas potato salad, I mean... whatever. There really is no sauce that finishes like Salt Lick's Original Recipe. "Vinaigrette salad dressing" is usually some kind of cheap-o I-talian dressing. "Mayonnaise" means mayonnaise, not Miracle Whip™... heaven help us.
The day before you plan to eat the potato salad, marinate the chopped onion in the pickle juice. Keep in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight if you've got the time. Boil potatoes (skin-on) in salted water until tender but slightly firm; drain. Cool in ice water bath; drain. Peel and chop potatoes, place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and celery seeds. Chill, covered, for 8 hours or longer.
Drain chopped onion, discarding the pickle juice. Add onion to potato mixture and stir well. Stir in barbecue sauce and vinaigrette salad dressing. Chill, covered for 1 hour or longer. Stir in mayonnaise just before serving, then adjust seasonings.
Serves 10, y'all!