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Jun 17, 2007 10:53 AM

New York area deli style potato salad

I guess I need another post. I am looking for a recipe for the ubiquitous thin sliced potato salad of years ago, in virtually all New York city area delicatessens. I don't think it was made with mayonnaise. There were no eggs, no celery, no pickles, just potatoes, sprinkled with chopped parsley. I think there must have been a trace of sugar, and certainly vinegar.. Some oil, as well HELP, I do miss it so much.

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  1. If you can get your hands on New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill, circa 1993, she might include a good one in there. [See image of her cover included in this reply].

    This isn't *really* what you're looking for, but it's a good source (for recipes and ideas):

    1. After the potatoes are cooked, you slice and soak them in brine until you're ready to put them out. Wish I could remember the exact recipe for the brine, but contained the usual: good white vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper: not sure about the oil. I think maybe chopped onions went into it too. We used to make it by the gallon and there was lots of vinegar and sugar, similar to German. When ready to go into the case up front (could be days later) you stir in a little mayo. That's how all the salads are made, soaking in bus tubs in brine in the back (different recipes for slaw and mac, involving pickle/red pepper juices from the jar and more spices) then adding a little mayo when served. Sorry it's been a long time and I don't remember the exact recipes (should have copied them off the wall I guess) but that's the general idea. The parsley got sprinkled in rows on top before putting it out, then it mixed in each time you scooped some out.

      2 Replies
      1. re: coll

        Try to find the 2nd Ave. Deli cookbook somewhere, because that one was the best. I believe their secret ingredient was yellow mustard.

        1. My curiosity got the better of me and I dusted off my copies of Molly O'Neill's New York Cookbook (1992) and The 2nd Ave. Deli Cookbook (1999). The 2nd Ave. Deli recipe sounds like the potato salad I remember from New York delis. In addition to potatoes, the recipe calls for chopped celery and onion, white vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, mayo, parsley and carrot. No yellow mustard in their recipe.

          The recipe in O'Neill's book is adapted from a German recipe. Although the recipe has no mayo, it does have several other ingredients including thick-sliced bacon, flour, chicken broth, dry mustard, sugar, celery seeds, cider vinegar, chopped scallions and black pepper.

          Sounds like a little more recipe exploration is in order.