2-20: Potato and Sausage Salad

Simply Delicious has a few variations on potato salad–2-17: Spicy Potato Salad is closer to a German variation, using a vinegar dressing instead of mayonnaise. This recipe, 2-20: Potato and Sausage Salad not only uses mayonnaise, but includes your choice of cured meat to accompany it–I went with chicken sausage, but you can use hot dogs, spicy links, or anything similar.

I caught a typo here–they mention capers in this blurb above, but dropped it from the actual ingredients list after the jump. I never realized it and now wish I had–capers would have been a welcome addition to this potato salad, especially instead of beets.

See? No capers on the ingredient list. They mention subbing out turkey or ham for sausages on the Tips sidebar, as well as swapping horseradish for Dijon mustard, but no mention of capers there either. Another notable mention: they don’t tell you what kind of potatoes to use, either. This matters more than you think.

Ingredients. Two onions would have been way too much–I used two for the picture, but only one in the recipe, and even that was overpowering. I think onions are bigger today than they used to be in the 1980s–Simply Delicious is always way over on their onion recommendations.

No boiled potatoes on hand, so I’ll boil as part of the process, right? Not if you want to use slices, as I learned.

I followed their directions on cutting thin slices, but I made a fatal mistake: I cut these potatoes into thin slices before I boiled them–these types of slices are great for an au gratin, not so great for a potato salad. If you want to use large, dry Russets like these for your potato salad and NOT have them be boiled first, cube or chunk them–they’ll fall apart into quasi-mashed potatoes otherwise.

If you want to use this style of slicing (especially in a potato salad) but are more flexible on your choice of potato type, it would work better with a smaller, firmer red potato or a mid-sized, waxier yellow potato. Even wee buttery fingerlings cut in a few chunks or slices would make for an interesting variation.

I suppose I haven’t been clear about my issue here–there’s actually a few.

  1. This recipe method calls for the potatoes to be sliced. If you don’t boil the potatoes first, and you use Russet potatoes, boiling uncooked slices is a bad idea–the slices will fall apart. If you boil the whole Russets FIRST, cool them, and then slice them, you may have a better shot of them staying intact. However, I doubt it, which leads me to my second point:
  2. Slices of potatoes is not inherently a bad idea, especially because the sausages are slices as well–you just have to use a sturdier type of potato. My suggestions would be red, yellow, or fingerling potatoes, but there are other types out there. This leads me to my third point:
  3. Simply Delicious does not tell you what type of potato to use–most people (especially in the 1980s when food choices were much more limited) would have instantly defaulted to Russets. My initial point way at the beginning was that potato choice is important.

I’ve spent way too much time defending not following the recipe and being disappointed with the result. Let’s move on for all our sakes.

I chose to use a chicken & apple sausage for this recipe, I thought the flavors would go well in a potato salad. Anything from hot dogs to lunch meat to leftover roasted meat would work too–meat and potato is a success in almost every combination you can think of.

Mixed up what is essentially the base of most creamy salad dressings (Ranch, blue cheese, etc.).

I tried as hard as I could to par-cook these lightly so that they’d stay together, but I can’t shock them with water like pasta–it’ll saturate them and make them a big mealy mess. Potatoes still cook as they cool down like pasta however, and they’ll continue to get softer as they cool no matter what I do.

While my potatoes cool (and continue to soften), I sliced up the cooked sausage as directed, but threw the slices back into the pan with some water to get them even browner. There’s a lot more flavor to be had from these sausage slices than Simply Delicious would have you believe.

Diced onion (still way too much) goes in with the potatoes. As this salad sat and melded flavors, it became more and more onion-y, which became overpowering after just a day or two. Cut the onion back–you can ALWAYS add more in, but it’s tough to take it back out if you add too much.

Mixed the dressing with the veggies–slices of whole Russets were a bad idea for another reason–the peels slipped off and became an odd texture when compared to the overall mushiness of the rest of it. Some of the slices stayed somewhat round, but the stringy bits of peel were not a great idea. I suppose I should have peeled them all, but I was being lazy. I can admit that one is my fault, though.

After blending, I let the potato and onion mixture chill in the fridge while the sausage slices finished browning.

I think those pan-browned slices look much more appetizing than just cutting them and throwing them in. You can still see a few intact slices of potato (I thought similar sizes would be good as a salad, but as we’ve discussed, potato choice and preparation is important), but it’s not quite how I had envisioned. The weird peel slices were a big part of it being somewhat disappointing as well–I have to be honest, and that one was my fault.

It wasn’t BAD, don’t get me wrong–it just could have been so much better.

TL;DR: Not a bad recipe, just peel your potatoes, cook them right, consider what type of potato you use, brown your sausage slices, cut the amount of onion down considerably, and hope for the best.

Grade: B+