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I’m a fan of potato salad and have amassed a generous collection of recipes. Potato salad is bit like guacamole: ubiquitous in the summer and always different. Beyond potato and mayo, there are many options for ingredients: celery, hardboiled egg, … Ah, I’ve stepped into dangerous territory. Some people would say potato salad without egg is heresy. And others, like me, prefer their potato over their egg.

Brian tends to “over onion” his potato salads but I have corrected my deviant behavior. As the official dicer in the family, I rule. When I say fine dice, I mean really fine. Having many small pieces of onion means you get more flavor from a smaller total volume of onion, so the potatoes are not overwhelmed. Brian has actually admitted that I am right.

This is a recipe that we have perfected over the years. At a party this afternoon, a large bowl of salad intended to serve 25 people was consumed by only 18. The version below will serve 8 people easily. The recipe does scale, so for a party, just double or triple or quadruple.

Even for yourself, this recipe keeps well and ages distinctively over time. You can make a batch and eat it during the week. For a quick midweek barbeque, it’s a terrific asset to have homemade potato salad ready to go.

The recipe calls for paprika: the source of the red and some of the head. I call for a teaspoon here but depending on your paprika, your taste buds, and your courage, more is spicier. And, actually, I use SMOKEY paprika. That makes a signficant difference.


Red, Hot and Spicy Potato Salad

Yield: 8 persons


2 ½ pounds red potatoes, washed cleaned and NOT peeled
1 red onion very finely diced [or 3 bunches of scallions for a different look and feel but great taste]
¾ cup finely diced pickles [I prefer something sweet]
1 stock of celery, very finely diced
1 crushed garlic clove
¾ cup of mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon of pickle juice
2 Tablespoons of raspberry vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 Teaspoon of paprika, SMOKEY
1 Tablespoon of mustard [horseradish mustard is a nice twist here]
¼ cup of chives
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup of parsley or cilantro for decoration [chive flowers is an option, too]


Half fill a deep sauce pan, one able to hold all the potatoes and water, and bring to a boil. Generously salt the water. After washing the potatoes, place them in the sauce pan and return to a boil. Cook for 10-20 minutes more until the potatoes are firmly cooked but NOT mushy. Test with a knife: the blade should pass through the potato easily with little pressure; the potato should not crumble. After 10 minutes of boiling, check every minute or two.

Remove the potatoes from the stove and drain into a bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. Ideally, overnight.

Remove the cold potatoes and slice each one into 5 thin slices. Don’t bother to peel. If some peel begins to fall off, just pluck it and toss aside.Place the slices in a large metal bowl, one you can later put into your refrigerator.

Add the diced onion, pickles and celery. Gentle fold all the ingredients together with your hands.

In a separate bowl, add the crushed garlic, mayo, pickle juice, raspberry vinegar, olive oil, mustard, paprika and chives. Whisk together for a minute until perfectly smooth and uniform in color. Taste and add salt and pepper if you wish.

Pour about ¾ of the mayo mixture over the potatoes and onion. Mix with your hands and judge if some of the remaining mayo mixture is needed. Some of us like our potato salad goopy, some of us have wives who do not.

Let sit for 10 minutes, then taste test for any additional needed salt or pepper. Season to your taste, and remix with your hands. Top with parsley or cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Source: Brian and Suzen O’Rourke