Q: What is the best way to cook eggs for potato salad?
— Ted Okon, Warren, Mich.
A: In a good potato salad, eggs and potatoes go together like peanut butter and jelly. Now that it's the season for potato salad and deviled eggs, it's a good time to revisit cooking eggs and potatoes.
If you overcook the eggs, they get that unsightly greenish tinge to them — harmless, but a turnoff. The green comes from a chemical reaction.
And if you cook the potatoes too long, they can crumble and fall apart, or suffer from being waterlogged.
The best way to avoid this issue is simple: Don’t overcook either.
Here’s how to steam eggs
In the past few years, steaming eggs has been my go-to method. The eggs turn out perfect every time. The yolks are a brilliant yellow and hold together.
When you steam eggs, the process is gentler. They are not rolling around in water and bumping into other eggs. You also use less water.
You’ll need a collapsible vegetable steamer basket, and a large saucepan with a lid. Place the steamer basket in the pan. Heat the water on high until it’s boiling and you see steam. Place the eggs in a single layer on the bottom of the steamer basket, reduce the heat to medium and cover the pot. Set the timer for 15 minutes for large eggs. Take one egg out, run it under cold water, and peel it to check it. If it’s done, immediately shock the eggs in cold water or ice water for 10 minutes. Then peel.
Another standard way to hard-cook eggs — the culinary term — is in a saucepan with water. Place the eggs in a saucepan that gives them room to wiggle a bit. Add water to cover by at least 1 inch and bring it to a full boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat, cover the pan and set the timer for 15 minutes for large eggs. For jumbo or extra-large eggs, figure a minute or two longer. Check one egg, and if it’s done, shock them all in ice water for 10 minutes. When cool, peel the eggs or store them in a bowl in the refrigerator.
It’s always best to buy the eggs a week before you cook them. If the eggs are too fresh, they are seriously hard to peel.
Cooking the potatoes
When it comes to cooking potatoes for the salad, waxy varieties work best. Try Yukon Golds, new potatoes or red skins. Waxy potatoes also tend to hold their shape better. (If you overcook them, they will be softer and almost crumble.) I avoid baking potatoes because they are drier and tend to crumble, especially if overcooked.
Place the potatoes in a large pot and top them by 2 inches with cold water. Season the water generously with kosher salt.
Bring water to a boil, and reduce the heat to a very low boil or simmer. Cook the potatoes until they are tender. They are done when you can pierce them easily with a paring knife without the potato falling apart.
If you prefer a vinegar-based dressing, add it to the potatoes while still warm. For mayonnaise-based potato salads, I add the mayo to cold potatoes, otherwise they might melt, and you’ll need more.
Roasted Potato Salad
This recipe puts a different spin on potato salad by roasting the potatoes.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes (plus chilling time)
10 cups leftover roasted potatoes (or see note for roasting)
6 leftover deviled eggs or 6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, tarragon and dill
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Morton’s Nature’s Seasons Seasoning Blend or favorite all-purpose seasoning
1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
In a large bowl, place the roasted potatoes, eggs, celery, green onion and herbs of choice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and a seasoning blend. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar and mustard. (You can use less mayonnaise if using deviled eggs.) Pour over the salad and gently stir to blend all ingredients. Chill until ready to serve.
To roast potatoes: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet with sides and place it in the oven while it preheats. Quarter the potatoes. When the oven is preheated, use oven mitts to remove the baking sheet and place the potato quarters on the baking sheet. Season with all-purpose seasoning and toss the wedges to coat with the oil and seasoning. Roast about 25-35 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden. Remove from the oven and cool before using in the salad.
From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
242 calories (30 percent from fat), 8 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 37 g carbohydrates, 7 g protein, 272 mg sodium, 133 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber.
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