One of my lifelong goals is to master making potato salad in as many forms as I can,” says Engel. “I joke with the Galit team that we’re going to open a potato salad restaurant one day, but I don’t think I’m really joking.” These three recipes of his start with the same cooking method: Place 2 pounds of peeled, cubed Yukon gold potatoes in a pot with 8 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of kosher salt. (“Heartily salting your water makes for a consistently seasoned and aromatic potato salad,” he says.) Bring this to a boil over medium heat; reduce to low and cook the potatoes until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Finish the potatoes with your choice of the following recipes, and you’ll have a salad that’ll be a smash at any summer picnic.
1. Classic Take: Galit’s Potato Salad
Engel tucks this salad into a pita with pastrami for a sandwich he serves at the restaurant. While the potatoes cook, finely dice four celery stalks and one small yellow onion and thinly slice three scallions; place them in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons of Creole mustard (Engel recommends Zatarain’s brand), and ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika. Drain the potatoes and place them on the vegetables in the large bowl. Let them sit 5 minutes, then gently fold in the mayonnaise mixture. Allow to cool.
2. Jewish Twist: Schmaltzy Potato Salad With Gribenes and Mustard
Engel’s reimagining of German potato salad calls for gribenes and schmaltz (i.e., chicken cracklings and rendered chicken fat). Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and dry ½ pound of chicken skins (Engel suggests asking your butcher to save them for you), then slice them into ½-inch strips. Spread these on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown, 40 to 60 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to move the cooked skins to a plate, then crumble them. Strain the rendered fat and set aside. While the potatoes cook, combine ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar and 3 tablespoons of Creole mustard in a small bowl; whisk in reserved schmaltz gradually. Drain the potatoes, place them in a large bowl with the schmaltz vinaigrette, the gribenes, and six thinly sliced scallions, and stir to combine.
3. A Tangy Twist: Herby Tahini Potato Salad With Bulgarian Feta and Too Many Pickles
While the potatoes cook, place one thinly sliced shallot in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of sumac and ¼ cup of red wine vinegar. Strain an 18-ounce jar of Middle Eastern–style pickled cucumbers (Engel recommends Osem brand) and chop them into ½-inch thick slices. Place the drained potatoes in a large bowl and let them cool to room temperature. Add the chopped pickles, the sumac-shallot mixture, and 4 cups of an herbed tahini sauce (like Trader Joe’s brand) and stir. Sprinkle 2 cups of crumbled Bulgarian feta (available at Mariano’s) on top. Refrigerate before serving.