A Very Southern Potato Salad
Down here in Texas it’s already feeling like summertime. Days have been in the 80s-90s, which means long afternoons of day drinking and barbecuing. The other weekend I decided to make a potato salad for a backyard barbecue party, but I wanted to do something a little more exciting than your average white potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and celery. (You will never find celery in my picnic foods, actually! It’s the bane of my existence.) I was inspired when I found some beautiful Texan collard greens at the store.
One thing (out of the katrillion things) I love about Austin, that you might not expect if you’ve never been here, is how strongly this community promotes buying and eating locally. I decided to take these greens and incorporate them into a potato salad celebrating all my favorite aspects of southern sides… namely, sweet potatoes, collards, and pork fat.
Sweet Potato Salad with Collard Greens, Caramelized Onions, and Bacon
Serves… a lot of people at a barbecue.
4 large sweet potatoes
3 large russet potatoes
1 large yellow onion
2 bushels collard greens
6 slices thick-cut bacon
3tbsp dijon mustard
1/3c white wine vinegar
2tsp cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper to taste
There are a lot of separate steps to this potato salad, but none of them are terribly difficult or time-consuming. It’s just a matter of multi-tasking. Let’s do this.
1. Peel all your potatoes and chop them into manageable cubes. Some people like small bits of potato, some like them big and chunky. I’ll leave it up to you what size potato pieces you’d like for your salad. You’re an adult, after all.
2. Dump all the potato chunks into a big pot of boiling water and let them cook for about 7-9 minutes, or until they soften. (Don’t overcook them to the point of mushiness, though! Otherwise we’re looking at a mashed potato disaster when you mix everything together.)
3. While the potatoes are boiling, heat up a small skillet with a bit of olive oil or butter and chop your onion into thin strips. Throw that into your heated skillet and let the onion hang out and caramelize while you do everything else. Make sure to check in every once in awhile to ensure it’s not burning or sticking to the skillet.
4. Get out another, bigger skillet, crank it up to medium heat and cook your bacon. Once adequately crisp, break it into small-ish crumbles.
5. While the bacon is frying, wash and chop your greens. Once again, it’s up to you if you want to de-stem it or keep the stems in, julienne into little strips or leave pretty big strips of the leaves. Once broken down to your liking, toss the greens in with the bacon (grease and all, yum) and cook until wilted and soft.
6. Once you have all your salad components cooked, deposit them in a large bowl and let them cool off in the fridge.
7. Now it’s time to make the dressing! Whisk together all ingredients, taste, and season accordingly. Feel free to play with proportions.