Friday, July 03, 2009

Nasty Assed Recipes - Fourth of July Edition

Having moved back into my parents' house for the summer, as they RV around the country, Husband and I have been invited to the neighbors' home for a Fourth of July BBQ. This couple is a little older than my parents and they are super, super Southern. They are as Southern as it can possibly get and their family is down from Georgia for the holiday. They are really nice people and they asked me to make a potato salad for the potluck. This I can do, except I don't particularly like Southern Potato Salad. The Pioneer Woman recently posted a recipe for it that was so utterly vile that I couldn't even look at pictures of it without the bile rising in my throat. She actually rices her potatoes, which is heinous. Potato salad contains cubes and chunks of slightly al dente potatoes, not freaking mashed potatoes. It's not negotiable.

There is not a single person in my family who can make an edible potato salad. My grandmothers each have their own version. Both are gross. Mommom Jewel's potato salad is at least the correct consistency with the diced potatoes, but then she goes and makes it with Miracle Whip and an ass load of celery seed and it becomes a culinary abomination. Memere Marie's gets worse with the addition of hard boiled eggs, chopped green pepper, big pieces of raw onion, school-bus yellow hot dog mustard and something red that is unidentifiable but may be pimentos. With her you never know. It could very well be maraschino cherries. Even Savta, my dear Slovakian adopted grandmother, who is as far from Southern as one can get, makes her own horrible, Eastern European version of potato salad. This one is the worst, but apparently it's popular from Warsaw to Moscow. In Savta's potato salad, diced potatoes are combined with mayonnaise, the aforementioned hard boiled eggs, diced cooked carrots, canned peas, onions, canned corn (though not always) and occasionally even diced meat which can be tuna fish, chopped salami (kosher of course) or some other horror. This has got to be the grossest potato salad I have ever seen in my life. I would not eat this for a thousand dollars. For real, if you came to me and said you would pay me a thousand dollars cash to eat Savta's potato salad, I wouldn't be able to choke it down. Same goes for Memere Marie's. I think for the money, I might manage Mommom Jewel's, but only if I got half the money up front and had a full pitcher of ice cold, Country Time pink lemonade to wash it down quickly.

The only potato salad I can reasonably handle is German. This is because it has bacon and isn't creamy. I like tart, vinegary and smoky things (like BBQ) so this potato salad makes more sense to me. I learned how to make it when I worked at the hotel where I used to make chicken club sandwiches for Elton John. We served it cold, although I know some German Potato Salad is supposed to be hot. I wish that I could provide you a recipe. Once I longed to have a food blog where I posted original recipes, but quickly I realized that this just isn't possible for me because I don't use recipes when I cook. I just throw stuff together and adjust the ingredients until I get it how I like. I can give you a rough idea of how it's made and if you're industrious you can probably work it out for yourself.

How I Make Potato Salad (but not a recipe)

Take some red, new potatoes and boil them whole until they are slightly tender. You can't overcook them or you'll have a smushy mess. Potato salad MUST NOT BE A SMUSHY MESS. I feel so strongly about this. Cool the potatoes and slice them into rounds or wedges. Let them keep cooling. Then cut up a bunch of bacon into little cubes and saute it. Once it renders some fat, throw in some diced red onion and saute that until the bacon is cooked and the onion is soft. Then throw in some red wine vinegar. This will burn your nose. Stir it around and dissolve all the brown pieces of bacon that stuck on the bottom of the pan. Then sprinkle in some brown sugar and stir that up. You're going for a balance of sweet and sour here. Take this off the stove and let it cool. In a separate bowl mix up some mayo, a pinch of celery seed (do not go crazy with it), grainy mustard and pepper. Whisk it all up until it's smooth. Put the potatoes in another bowl with some minced celery. Pour the bacon vinegar mixture into the mayo mixture and whisk it up. Taste it and see if its how you like. You might want to add more vinegar or sugar to get the balance right. See if it needs salt. It might. Once you get the dressing tasting good, pour it over the potatoes and celery. Then, very gently, with your clean hands, fold the dressing into the potatoes. Do not be rough with this or, again, you will end up with a smushy mess. You want to keep the potatoes in tact. Now you can serve this at room temperature or chill it. Sometimes when it gets cold it tends to stiffen up a little. If it does you can add a little water or vinegar to loosen it up before serving. This isn't supposed to be very creamy though. Don't be ridiculous with the mayo. Once I get off my lazy ass and make mine I'll take a picture so you can see how it looks. I can tell you right now that it looks good. This potato salad is not disgusting. This is not a nasty-assed recipe.

This recipe, however, is. Feeling brave, I decided to do a search on the ever reliable nasty-assed recipe archive that is, for Fourth of July recipes. I think I may have found a winner with this recipe for something called Copper Pennies. It doesn't even sound good. I remember sucking on pennies as a child. Why I did this I don't know. It's a miracle no one ever had to call an ambulance over me swallowing one. I also used to pick scabs and lick the blood and I remember thinking the blood and pennies tasted the same. In this recipe one makes a dressing with a base of cold, canned tomato soup and then pours it over cold, cooked carrots and raw green peppers. This is not ok. Recipes involving cans of tomato soup are never a good sign. Tomato soup reminds me of this date I once had with a guy from Indiana.

My friend and I had met this guys out at a club and had gone to Denny's with them at three in the morning. One of the guys, named Marc with a C, asked me out and I said I'd have dinner with him. I chose a Jamaican restaurant. Marc with a C was not about the Jamaican food. It was too spicy and exotic. He ordered his meal without this and substitute that and put this on the side. Then he made a big fuss about how strange this Jamaican food was. I don't think there's anything exotic in the slightest about Jamaican food. Some of it is spicy hot, but that does not exotic make. I asked Marc with a C what his favorite food was. He said he liked his Mom's Indiana home cooking. I asked which dish.

"Tomato soup, hamburger and rice," he said.

"Which one is your favorite?"

"No, that's one dish."

"How do you make it?"

"You take tomato soup and mix it with some cooked hamburger meat and then you make some Minute Rice and put that in too."

"Is it soup?" I asked.

"No, it's thick. You eat it with a fork."

"Is there anything else in it," I asked, thinking maybe some spices, onions, peppers? Flavor?

"You can put some salt."

Needless to say, Marc with a C and I did not have a second date. He would never have approved of all that hot sauce I keep in my fridge.

But here is the Fourth of July Nasty Assed Recipe 2009 Winner: Fourth of July Copper Pennies.

I did some more research on this recipe, desperately wanting a picture and found a blogger brave enough to actually make it and photograph it. This person used red peppers, which seems to be an improvement over green and the picture of it did not look as gross as I would have imagined. Still though, a can of tomato soup?

What nasty-assed recipes are on your BBQ menus this year?


Anonymous said...

Your potato salad directions are very close to my families versions of German Potato Salad, but without the bacon. I agree that the texture of the potatoes is very, very important...I also only use red potatoes but my mother used to be quite successful with plain old bagged up white potatoes. Her trick was to cook them carefully and to use quality vinegar, very light on the mustard and mayo, red onions or scallions ... maybe olives. And we used yellow cheap a**ed mustard because we were descended from California-ized Texans from Alabama who didn't know anything different. Our southern roots had been terribly altered. The weirdest ingredient I remember from my mothers or aunts potatoes salads (recreated for every holiday and potluck, winter included) was fresh chopped tomatoes. It was actually good because it wasn't mushy. My favorite is adding black or green whole olives ... I dunno but it's what I crave in a good German potato salad - plus I leave the skins on my red potatoes. Have a great 4th Wide Lawns.


Living in Muddy Waters said...

I believe the tomato, rice and hamburger mixture is called "Porcupines". My Polish grandmother used to make it all the time and I gagged with every bite.

JDogg said...

I don't know that I'll have a bad dish being made in the house - but who knows what I might run across tomorrow, here in the city. There are more than enough different ethnicities to have something that someone won't like.

Have a great 4th!

Lady Jane said...

I have never been a big potato salad fan...but you salad sounds delish. I think it is because of the red potatoes, bcon, grainy mustard. I will definately have to file it away..the Duke loves Potato salad. Thanks

kjellsor said...

My favourite potato salad consist of cubed boiled potatos, olive oil, sun dried tomatos, feta cheese and rock salt. you gav me a idea with the baco though, will add that next time i make it! Happy 4th of july from Norway.

tiffmeister said...

my parents make the copper pennies crap...only here they call it "carrot salad". it smells as gross as it looks, believe me.

KirstyS said...

I make potato salad fairly similar to yours, except I use sour cream or creme fraiche instead of mayo....even natural yoghurt works well. I'm sure mayo does to, but I loathe the stuff.

Oh, and I don't think the tomato soup/hamburger/rice dish is porcupines....that's where the meat and rice (together with onion, salt and pepper and some mixed herbs) are made into meatballs then simmered in the soup til it's cooked. I made it at my husbands request a few months ago and it was better than I expected....

Last Minute Lyn said...

I used to make a carrot salad a lot like that...yes with tomato soup but the carrots were raw and julienned.
When I was a deli manager I made this salad every 3 days..but that was in N.C.

drawer queen said...

MEATBALLS, you make the hamburger and rice into meatballs and then cook it in tomato soup. It is called porcupine meatballs and if you have a pressure cooker, like my mom did, you can cook it in half the time.(hurray!) My kids freakin LOVED this dish and I made it more than I care to admit but once they reached the age of better food decisions, we banned it from the house.

Anonymous said...

I always love these posts, because I am the Queen of Whitetrash food. Ok, maybe not the Queen, because there's been a few things that you've mentioned on here that has made me raise an eyebrow (I think it was the Hot Chicken Salad?)

Nonetheless, I will see you one "Potato Salad" and raise you one "Ham Barbecue." That's right. Chipped ham lunchmeat (and if you're not from Pittsburgh you'll probably have to google that) and ketchup-based BBQ sauce. I have seen some recipes that used a can of Coke and a bottle of Heinz Chili sauce as the barbecue sauce. Mostly appalling, except I've got my own version cooking (this involves a Jack Daniels BBQ sauce) in the kitchen right now and it is amaaazziiiiing.

Nanci said...

Ew. Blood and pennies do taste similar!

kerry said...

There are few potato salads that I can eat but yours sounds like it might be worth a try. You're absolutely right about the potatoes, though - can *not* be mushy. :)

Happy 4th!

Anonymous said...

The tomato soup/rice/hamburger mixture is the filling for two abominations endured during my childhood: A) stuffed cabbage (you roll cabbage leaves around the filling, arrange in glass pan, dribble more tomato goop on top and bake) and B) stuffed green peppers (same technique; mom wasn't particularly innovative). Well, maybe she was; she tried to convince us kids that these things were exotic Hungarian or Polish dishes. So we'd gladly eat them. Yeah, like that was gonna happen.

Hugs, Sunny

sha said...

I bought baked potato salad from the deli today. I can't help it, I like it. You might deem it nasty assed. It has sour cream rather than mayo and bacon and shredded cheddar.
My roommate liked it, so that says something. He's the pickiest eater I've ever met ever.

I've also had a really good sweet potato salad, but I've never found a recipe like the one that was on the salad bar at the Owl Junction cafe in Laurel, MT.

G.H. said...

Your mix sounds delish. I want to try it myself.


Sandra @ The Memory Workshop said...

I have to agree, PW lost me at "riced" potatoes. Yours sounds great!

Sandra @ The Memory Workshop said...

Oh and the grossest 'potluck' dish my mom ever made (over and over again) was a jellied salad that was creamy lime green and had shredded carrots and olives in it.

Anonymous said...

Hamballs. Ugh. My mom's side of the family makes them with chopped ham. I don't think the ham is very high quality, and they were awful.

I love visiting them, and for the record, this is the only thing they have ever made that I really disliked.

Eric said...

Saddly I have to disagree on the potato salad. I am a traditionalist, Al Dente taters cubed, mayo, HB egg Frenches mustard Celery and S&P to taste.
It was actually the first thing I learned to cook professionally.
And at another restraunt we made a hot german tater salad. Almost exactly how you did it but served up hot.
Finally your talk of smokey made me think of a dish we have every fall when the weather turns. It is a french Alsacean chercoot. I know I mangled the spelling. It is a mixture of Sourkraut Bacon, a bit of gin carrots onion and a bay leaf allowed to slow cook in the crock pot for a couple of hours.
In the last hour add Brats, smoked chops and and other yummy German smoked meats and serve up. Very hearty rib sticking. there is a german butcher in the public market called Bavarian Meats that we go to to get the stuff for this. The place smells devine

Wide Lawns said...

Eric, that's called Choucroute. It's yum, but heavy.

Eric said...

Of course Chou is Cabbage. That makes sense.
And I cannot believe I just posted "The place Smells Devine" I think I need to go burp or punch something now. :)

Anonymous said...

Sucking on pennies and licking scabs to taste the blood? Sounds like anemia to me.


nandy said...

My late MIL used to make that dish with the tomato soup, hamburger and Minute Rice. But she also added a can of stewed tomatoes. She called it Spanish rice. It wasn't too bad tasting, and my ex-h loved it because you only had to use a fork to eat it. He loved any dish that didn't need a knife to cut it.

Anonymous said...

I just came across a blog and thought you may want to check it out. It's called TheSneeze, but he has a series of columns called "Steve, don't eat it!" It's pretty insightful, and not for the queasy for sure. Check it out at


kirby said...

I agree German potato salad should never be creamy (Im Duetsh, so sould know)... cube the potatoes before you cook them... that way won't overcook any part of the potato bits.... and they cook really fast... Oh..and please no mayo.... I'll send you my greatgrandmother's recipe if you promise to never use mayo and call it German Potato Salad ever again.... serious

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