With nicer weather on it’s way, this potato salad will be the perfect addition for any barbecue or potluck. Plus it has bacon in it, so who can resist that?! I developed this recipe on accident, purely unintentionally. It was the day after Super Bowl, where my husband wanted a potato skin bar and he made almost a dozen potatoes. Now the question was, what do we do with all that leftover potato filling. My in-laws jokingly said to make mashed potatoes! I hate mash potatoes, I know I am probably the only person in America, that dislikes, cringes, when mashed potatoes is offered as a side. I am not 100% sure why I don’t like potatoes that are mashed. When I think of these potatoes, I have flashbacks to watching Charles in Charge and eating those TV dinner’s, you know the ones with the “fried” chicken and brownie in the middle slot. Or the fact that I grew up eating those flakey instant potatoes that came from that large dark brown can. But don’t get me wrong, if someone makes mashed potatoes, I will eat them. I am not going to have a tantrum on the floor like my 3 year old, when we try to get her to eat peas. Screaming “that’s aaa-sgusting” But in the end, I do prefer another type of potato side; roasted, baked, gratin.
So back to what we do with the leftover potato filling. Do we just toss it in the garbage? That will be a huge waste…well how about a potato salad!; and I can use all the leftover add-on’s from the potato skin bar. That is how Potato “Skin-less” Potato Salad was developed, wow that is a mouthful to say! But this salad is pretty special, guaranteeing folks to go back for a second helping.
Then I realized, I have been making potato salad wrong. All these years, I have been boiling the potatoes, where I should have been baking them. Baking helps dry out the potato a bit turning the filling more into chucks, where I feel boiling holds more water causing the potato to turn mushy when you break them down.
Here are some tips when baking a potato; first scrub them clean!, then using a fork polk holes all around the potato, this will help it vent when baking. The first time I made baked potatoes, the recipe I used didn’t say to polk holes, and my potatoes didn’t cook all the way through. I am not sure if I did something wrong or if it was because I didn’t polk vent holes, then again, I did use a recipe on how to bake potatoes, so it could have been user error. So polk holes all around, I usually do 2 per side, so it would be 8 total on each potato. Then place the tots on a non-stick baking sheet (you can line a pan with non-stick foil for easy clean up). Here is a fun thing I like to do, drizzle some olive oil over each potato and sprinkle with a good amount to kosher salt, then massage the potatoes with the oil and salt mix. There is rumor that salting the outside of the potato will help bring moisture back into the potato while it cooks. I think this is an urban legend, because I cannot seem to find any other true benefit besides the fact, if you are going to eat the skin of the potato, the salt helps crisp the skin and makes it very tasty! Plus Outback does this, so it can’t bad. Also the salt, olive oil mixture works as a great exfoliator for your hands! Now you just bake the potatoes for 90 minutes in a 400℉ oven.
The only other prep you need to do is make the bacon and dressing. For the bacon, bake it in a 400℉ oven on a baking sheet lined with a wired rack for 17 to 20 minutes, until crips. Let the bacon drain, cool then chop!
Now for the buttermilk ranch dressing; You can buy pre-made dressing, but it isn’t the same. Over the years I have realized if you have time to make dressing from scratch, do it! I am not saying store-bought dressing is bad, I have like 4 varieties in my fridge as I type this. But homemade dressing is just better in my opinion. Plus most ingredients will likely already be in your pantry. This dressing which I adapted from a Pioneer Woman recipe consists of mayo, buttermilk, sour cream, white vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Mix all these ingredients together and set aside. I like to store it in a glass mason jar in the refrigerator, you will also have leftover dressing to use at another time.
Once the potatoes are done, let them cool, so you can handle. After just slice them in half and scoop out the insides into a bowl. You can save the leftover skins for..drumroll, please…Potato Skins! Just place them in a plastic ziploc or container and store in the fridge until you are ready to use.
Now you are ready to assemble the salad, just combine the potatoes with the sour cream, ranch dressing, chopped bacon, green onions, chives, salt and pepper. Depending how much insides you get from each potato, you may need to adjust the amount of dressing, salt and pepper at the end. So start off with a little and you can always add more. Again everyone has different preferences on how they like their potato salad, some like it more dry, others like more dressing. So feel free to adjust it to your own taste.
After the potato salad is all combined, you can leave it in the mixing bowl or transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with some more chopped chives. Cover and chill until you are ready to serve. You can serve this delicious side either chilled or at room temperature. There is no wrong way to do it!
Potato “Skin-Less” Potato Salad
Serves 6-8, as a side dish
4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed clean
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk ranch dressing, store-bought or homemade (see recipe below)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 pieces thick-cut bacon, cooked and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons chives, chopped, plus more for garnish
Preheat oven to 400℉. Using a fork, polk vent holes all around each potato (8 polk per potato). Place potatoes on a non-stick baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Massage olive oil and salt all around the potatoes. Bake for 90 minutes. Once done remove from the oven, let the potatoes cool to handle. Slice the potatoes in half and scoop out the insides into a bowl. Save the skins for later use (for potato skins!).
In the bowl containing the potato insides add sour cream, buttermilk ranch dressing, salt, pepper, chopped bacon, green onions and chives. Carefully mix all the ingredients until the salad comes together. If the salad seems a little dry you can add more dressing. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Leave the potato salad in the mixing bowl or transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with some more chopped chives. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use, serve either chilled or at room temperature.
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
yields 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup mayonnaise, such as Hellmann’s or Best Foods
1/4 cup sour cream, Daisy Brand
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small clove of garlic, pressed or minced
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients into a bowl until mixture is smooth. Cover and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman, Cheddar-Bacon Wedge Salad recipe.