This is the column I never wanted to write.
Before I say anything else, I want to state that I am not a picky eater; nor do I have the palate of a preschooler. But, the favorite food of most people is comfort food, or something from their childhood. Just sayin’.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that my two favorite foods are heavily frosted birthday cake and potato salad.
But because I love tater salad so much, I have very strong opinions about it. I don’t like it refrigerated. It absolutely has to be a waxy potato, like a red skin, or a Yukon gold. don’t like celery, and mustard and pickle relish are evil abominations.Because of having exacting standards for potato salad, there are very, very few store-bought or restaurant made varieties that I like. I can really only think of four.
There was a deli in La Jolla named Kangaroo that made a version I enjoyed (now closed). A restaurant in Elizabeth City named Copeland’s at which Petey and I ate at three times a week when we were first married (also closed). A Greensboro sandwich shop Jam’s, who makes a lemon potato salad. And, chain eatery Wingstop’s potato salad, called Pearl’s. It’s full of big chunks of hard-cooked egg, and way too loose, but somehow still a favorite.
Jam’s is still open, and so is Wingstop.
But, yesterday when I went into my local Wingstop for some Pearl’s, I was told they’d stopped selling it.Which was both a bummer and an opportunity. An opportunity because I was still looking for a topic for this week’s column. The same hand that slapped the potato salad-laden fork out of my mouth also handed me something about which to write. I decided to do some online investigation to make Pearl’s at home.
So, I went all Nancy Drew and found three online clues. The first was a scrap of a recipe on Pinterest and included honey mustard. One was a recipe offered by an ‘insider’, that was a basic potato-onion-egg-mayo version. And seven years ago, Wingstop put a video on YouTube showing the making of their honey mustard tater salad. The honey mustard was part of their “secret sauce” but they offered nothing more as to its ingredients.Two things I then knew for sure: the salad was made with russets, and it contained both mustard and relish, so I have to walk back that abomination thing, and the no mustard recipe was a fraud.
I then did some kitchen experimentation and came up with a close-ish approximation. I’ve also sent a recipe request to Wingstop corporate and will follow up in another column if I hear back.
Pearl’s Wingding Potato Salad4 pounds russet potatoes cooked in boiling salted water until fork-tender
4 eggs, medium-hard cooked, peeled, and rough-chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
½ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup Trader Joe’s creamed honey
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
Salt & pepper to tasteWhen the potatoes are barely cool enough to handle, peel. Cut all except one into cubes. Chop reserved spud and put into dressing bowl and give it a smoosh until it’s chunky/mashed. Add relish, onion, mustard, honey, mayo, and sour cream. Stir together until well combined. Season and reseason, if necessary.Add still warm potatoes and eggs. Mix until everything’s coated. Season, cover and refrigerate for an hour. Serves 6-8.
So, I’ve decided something. When it comes to food, I’m going to stop assuming I know everything about my palate, and also that I know anything about everything else. Standing around with my mouth wide open in shock is getting old, and it just makes me look dumb.Thanks for your time.