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Sour cream and dill potato salad a great summertime comfort food

J. H. Osborne • Jul 14, 2019 at 8:30 PM

The mother of a friend passed away recently. And per my raising, I immediately thought, “What am I going to cook?” Something comforting, of course. And enough for a crowd. Good as a side or as a small snack for later, when the crowd was gone.

It’s summer, so I quickly settled on sour cream and dill potato salad. I’ve been making it (and taking it) for a decade or more. It’s really a simple dish — like a couple others I’ve shared — and I’m always surprised how many people say how good it is and ask for the recipe. My cousin Daran Nottingham was visiting Mom earlier this week, and I’d just made a big bowl full.

I wasn’t home, but Mom said Daran described it as the best potato salad he’s ever had — and asked for the recipe. I sent it to his mother, Barbara Hurd Carr, just before I began writing this column.

Another cousin, Phyllis Hunt Manis, went crazy for it the first time I took it to a family get-together. I later gave her the recipe — and she won first place for her preparation of it in the Appalachian Fair that year. She served scoops of it on lettuce leaves to the judges. Fancy. I just dole it out on your plate or give you a small bowl.

A week after my friend’s mother’s funeral, I received a thank you note, which said many guests at the post-visitation get together had commented on how good the potato salad was and they’d asked who’d made it. I told her I was thinking of putting the recipe in a column. She said please do.

So, here you go:

Johnny’s Best Potato Salad

• 5 pounds red potatoes, cleaned, cut into chunks (3/4 inch to 1 inch) and boiled. Do not overcook. They need to hold their shape, yet be tender. Drain and allow to cool to room temperature.

For dressing:

• 2 cups Daisy brand sour cream

• 1 1/3 cups Duke’s mayonnaise

• 2 teaspoons salt

• 1 teaspoon ground white pepper (black pepper can be used)

• 2 tablespoons dried minced onion (place in a small bowl and add two tablespoons very warm water and allow to sit for several minutes until dried onion is reconstituted)

• 1 package of fresh dill, purchased from the chilled produce section at the grocery store. (Rinse under cold running water, gently shake out excess water, then use scissors to snip the soft fringe-like ends from the stalks and discard stalks.)

Mix the sour cream and Duke’s until well blended. Add salt, pepper and onion and stir until well incorporated. Fold in dill (I usually just clip it directly into the bowl).

Once dressing is well blended, pour over potatoes and gently toss with a plastic spatula until all potatoes are well covered.

Keep refrigerated until serving time. Tastes best after 24-48 hours. Bowl of choice: vintage Tupperware (buttercup yellow).

Mom and I both like the dressing for other purposes: as a dip for potato chips; crackers; fresh veggies; for fried green tomatoes; or as a salad dressing. When using for salad dressing, I have sometimes added feta cheese (to taste), especially if my salad ingredients lean toward Greek items such as kalamata olives, beets, etc.

As I told my friend in a short note, her mother was the very epitome of true class, and I had always admired her and mostly appreciated her kindness, hospitality, and complete lack of pretension. I was a kid from Borden Village. She was the wife of a prominent professional and astute businesswoman living in Fairacres. She never asked me where I lived or what my father did. So I knew early on she was a special lady. And other incidents over the years only amplified that early impression.

J.H. Osborne covers Sullivan County government for the Times News. Email him at josborne@timesnews.net.

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