Fathers Day Dinner (Including Potato Salad Recipe)

I had to be out of the house today, and my wife sent me an email asking what I wanted for fathers day dinner. I generally prefer to cook everything myself, but that is not possible today, though I will cook the meat and brown some onions upon my return home. My requested meal, with instructions, is below the fold.

Note that these instructions contain my potato salad “recipe.” I use quotes because when I make this dish I do so completely by eyeball and I never measure anything. I do not know how close my family will be able to approach my ideal for this dish, though I am sure whatever they come up with will be fine. My senior daughter has assisted with the preparation in the past and may be able to get it done right. We shall see.

Jonathan previously asked me to share this “recipe” and since I had to write it down today, this is the fated moment to pass it along. No doubt everyone has their own absolutely and unassailably best way to make potato salad, and I say each home is its own castle in this regard, and should do things in the time-tested way, and I have no wish to impose my culinary values on anyone.

I do not suggest that mine is better, I just say that it is mine, and I am happy with it.

(Note that the eggs are a concession to my wife, who considers her late grandmother’s potato salad to have been the apex of perfection, and it had egg in it. The egg-or-no-egg controversy is one of the main fault lines in the world of potato salad, and my wife and I fall on opposite sides. But domestic peace is more important than standing on principle on this point.)

If we must spend money on food … .

Get a couple of decent sized sirloin steaks — three if necessary. They are expensive, but be sure to get enough.

Cut up some onion into disks which I will cook to have with the steak.

If we have any horse radish, you could get some sour cream and I will make a sauce.

You may want some french bread or some nice rolls.

I think we have potatoes. If not, please purchase some. Make potato salad. Everyone likes it. My recipe is below.

Get some lettuce and tomato. Have [senior daughter] make a salad with oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, lettuce, tomato and nothing else. [Note, senior daughter has a proven aptitude for this task.]

For desert get an apple pie and some vanilla ice cream. Put the ice cream in the back of the fridge so it is softened up.

Potato salad.

Slice enough potatoes to fill the large white bowl. Yellow potatoes are favored, red are disfavored, brown skinned white ones are ok.

Slices should be about 1/4 inch, and all should be uniform thickness so they are all done at the same time.

Boil potatoes in salted water. Cook until they are just penetrable by a fork without forcing it. Do not overcook. Do not undercook. Immediately drain. You want the sauce to be done when the potatoes are finished, so you can put the sauce on the still very hot potatoes which causes the sauce to infuse into the potatoes. Do not delay applying the sauce, put the potatoes in the bowl, pour on the sauce, toss gently so the potatoes do not break up too much, and let sit for about 1/2 hour. You may then, if you want, refrigerate.

Make the sauce.

Cut up one small onion into diced bits. Cook in a lavish amount of olive oil (roughly 2/3 cup, but I never measure) in the pan. The point is to flavor the oil. Cook until translucent but NOT brown. If there is garlic, slice a few cloves thinly and put in when the onions are almost done. Do not brown.

When this is done, transfer the oil and onions and garlic to a bowl. Use a rubber spatula to get it all. Add a substantial amount of yellow mustard, and brown mustard as well if you have it. Put in some mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper. Put in a few splashes of tabasco and one splash of vinegar — be sparing with these last two. Stir this mixture. The mayonnaise will be lumpy but will spread evenly when applied to the potatoes.

If you want to add egg, do the following. Before you turn on the heat under the potatoes, already have half a dozen eggs boiling. When they
are thoroughly hard boiled, drain, rinse with cool water, peel. Once the eggs are peeled, cut in half. Add cooked yolks to sauce, mash into the sauce with the back of a fork so that the yolks are uniformly mixed into the sauce. Cut the whites into chunks, perhaps 1/8 egg each chunk, and toss with the potatoes immediately after applying the sauce.


I added this last-minute supplement:

If you have not left yet …

You could get green onions. Use the white ends for the sauce. Reserve the green ends, cut into little circlets to toss at the end, to add color.

Also, the prospect of alcohol is appealing. Pilsner Urquell would be nice.

8 thoughts on “Fathers Day Dinner (Including Potato Salad Recipe)”

  1. Dan, I can tell you are a kraut from Wisconsin. German style potato salad has bacon and vinegar and is served warm — is that how your family makes it? I tried to make that recently, out an old Joy of Cooking cookbook recipe. The consensus was that it was just OK, though every bit was eaten. I overcooked the bacon, for one thing.

    The German style is a world unto itself. Irish people make a very bland version with mayonnaise and eggs. I got the mustard version from an Italian / Lithuanian neighbor, but I think she got it out of a cookbook. I sometimes put diced celery in it, if i happen to have some handy.

  2. Of course the German potato salad is the correct way to make it and nobody made it better than my grandmother from Munich. You could still put bacon in your more traditional American style potato salad and it would make it that much better.

  3. Darn — recipes for everything but the German potato salad. I am sure she winged it off the top of her head.

    I did, however, stumble upon this highly complicated recipe for sauerkraut that I found entertaining:

    1 head cabbage, shredded
    Put in jar with 1 tbsp salt, fill to top with boiling water, seal jar.
    Should be ready in 6 weeks.

  4. Your Italian/Lithuanian neighbor uses Dijon only. And no mayo. But this sounds really good. Over soon.

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