This very bright pink potato salad is very traditional in Newfoundland. Rarely seen alone, it is usually paired with two other forms of potato salad all on the same dish. Even though three different types of potato salad is not needed to prepare a lovely meal, Newfoundlanders more often than not, prepare all three forms. This post will focus only on the pickled beet variety. I will be sure to post the other two varieties – vegetable potato salad (mostly referred to as a white salad) and a mustard potato salad – in the near future.
For my family, potato salads (all three types) was a Sunday dinner tradition. My mom always made the potato salads on Sunday morning before church. They were always served with some kind of meat, usually a whole baked chicken, but sometimes roast beef, pineapple glazed ham, or turkey. And a coleslaw, a macaroni salad, a jelly salad, a dinner roll, and a fresh slice of tomato and lettuce leaves always accompanied the potato salads. Sometimes there would be company for dinner, but even if there wasn’t, my mom prepared the same meal every Sunday just for the five of us. I’d give anything to have one of those Sunday dinners just once more!
When I was a child, I actually didn’t like pickled beet potato salad at all. I’m certain that the main reason for this was that my mom used to use the canned Harvard brand diced beets in a sauce to make her version of this salad. In fact, I think she still does. I wasn’t a fan of those particular store-bought beets for potato salad, however, they work really well with pan-fried liver. God, I miss eating liver!
When I was married, my ex wife and her mother used to make beet potato salad using homemade pickled beets. Once I tasted it that way, I was converted, and I will only make it that way myself now. I should mention that if you don’t have homemade pickled beets, you can certainly make your own. Here’s a recipe for pickled beets that I got from my dad: Dad’s Canned Pickled Beets
If you don’t have the time to prepare your own pickled beets, you can certainly buy a jar of sliced or whole beets at the grocery store. I recommend the Bick’s variety. Be sure to buy the whole beets if at all possible. First of all, the whole beets are smaller in diameter which means you have a more tender, young beet, and will be more flavourful. Secondly, the sliced type are made up of older beets, damaged or bruised beets. Like canned tomatoes – I always buy the whole tomatoes even if what I’m preparing needs to have crushed or diced tomatoes. The companies that make canned tomatoes use the best tomatoes for the whole cans, and use the beaten, bruised, broken tomatoes for the crushed or diced type. This way, they can use up the not-so-pretty tomatoes and you end up serving them to your family. Not me! I always buy whole and chop them up myself. The same goes for jars of pickled beets.
The result, whether you buy prepared pickled beets, or if you prepare your own, will be the same, but as you no doubt know, using your own beets will yield a better tasting potato salad. And, in a recipe so simple as this, with just a few ingredients, you want to use only the best you can get!
- 6-8 medium potatoes, white flesh, peeled and boiled until tender, drained
- 1 cup pickled beets, roughly chopped
- ¾ cup pickled beet juice
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Place the drained potatoes back into the pot in which you boiled them
- Using a hand-held potato masher, or a potato ricer, mash the potatoes for this salad as you would if you were making mashed potatoes; no lumps is best!
- Add all of the ingredients, but hold back on ¼ cup of the beet juice
- Using a large spoon, vigorously mix all of the ingredients together
- If the salad is still firm, and if the colour is too pale, add the rest of the beet juice and mix well into the potato mixture
- You want to obtain a bright pink colour, yet maintain a mashed potato consistency
- Taste for seasoning and sweetness and adjust accordingly