Loaded Potato Salad with Bacon
Last month we went on a camping trip with friends which is pretty much the best idea ever. You split meal making and fire starting and kid wrangling. Someone remembers all the things you forgot. Someone else is ready with a pot of coffee when you haven’t slept. Kids keep each other busy, and adults keep each other laughing. Conclusion: camping solo is for the birds.
We ate meals in a wandering sort of way. Breakfast at one site, dinner at another. Snacks tossed out whenever kids were hungry (which is always). One of my favorite little memories of the trip is sitting around eating this potato salad with the adults while our kids rode bikes in endless circles. I think it was after lunch, before dinner. Just a simple moment shared between friends. Paper bowls and plastic forks. No plan, no rush. So random and yet so perfect.
I got the original recipe from my friend Rebecca, then tweaked a few things because I can never seem to leave well enough alone. I just thinned the dressing out a bit with buttermilk and added bacon. The end result is like a loaded baked potato swirled together in cool, creamy deliciousness.
I feel like it’s one of the best things I have whipped together in the kitchen this month. The rest of the summer might be a bust, but that’s ok. This potato salad is really, really good. The ingredients are simple, but the flavor is incredible. We ate it last night next to BLT sandwiches and sliced watermelon. A summer combination I’d highly recommend.
Speaking of bacon… have you ever tried Hempler’s bacon? No? Drop everything you are doing and eat this stuff. I’m not one to exaggerate so let’s just say: THIS BACON WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. It’s thick-cut bacon that’s like actual meat instead of strips of fat held together with microscopic ribbons of meat. Even my super picky 6-year old was eating it off the pan when it came out of the oven.
It’s not cheap, but it’s actually less than the bacon I used to buy at New Season’s (I paid $8.99 for 20 oz. of Hempler’s). Quality meat is one of those things I won’t budge on anymore. So we just compensate in the ol’ grocery budget by eating way less meat.
Wondering how to have the best summer yet? Allow me to summarize: Go camping with friends. Eat real bacon. Make this potato salad.
Loaded Potato Salad with Bacon
3 lbs. small potatoes
8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sour cream
1/3 c. milk or buttermilk
2 T. chopped chives or green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. salt
- Cook potatoes (following directions below). Place the completely cooled potatoes in a medium bowl, along with the bacon and cheese (if it will be several hours-overnight until you plan to serve the salad, you can add the bacon and cheese right before serving to keep them from getting soft). Toss gently.
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth.
- Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and gently fold the dressing in until everything is evenly coated. (You may want to reserve a small amount of dressing as the potatoes will soak it up over time.) Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator for several hours before serving to allow the potatoes to soak in some of the dressing. Add additional dressing, if needed.
How to Cook Potatoes
I learned this method of boiling/steaming from the great Barefoot Contessa. It gives you potatoes that are tender, but firm so you don’t end up with mashed potato mush. Also, I almost never peel potatoes. Save yourself a step and keep the peels!
- Place the potatoes and 2 Tablespoons of salt into a large pot and cover with water. Cover with a lid and bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes (until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork).
- Place a colander in the sink and drain the potatoes. Then place the colander filled with potatoes back into the cooking pot off the heat.
- Cover the pot/colander with a dry kitchen towel. Let the potatoes steam for 15-20 minutes, under tender but firm.
- When the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, cut into halves or quarters and proceed with recipe.
I own a colander similar to this Oxo Good Grips 5-Quart Stainless Steel Colander (Amazon). I like it because the handles don’t stick out from the sides, making it easy to nest snugly into pots. Perfect for cooking potatoes!
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