Ask anyone what their favorite summer salad is and many people will say “potato salad”, “macaroni salad”, or “coleslaw”. But then ask them for their favorite recipe and odds are you’ll get a dozen different answers, typically including “my mother makes the best macaroni salad” or “my grandmother’s German potato salad is amazing”. Truthfully, each one of these recipes would be slightly different and still “the best”. Yet cross reference the ingredients of these recipes and you’ll get very different results. Some might include pickle relish, mustard or bacon while others would scoff at those ingredients. One thing’s for sure though, any dish with jello as an ingredient is not a “salad”.*
Classic macaroni salad, one made with either short cut or elbow shaped macaroni and a mayonnaise based dressing can be found in various forms from school lunches, to southern BBQ shacks to every deli case. These salads started in the late 19th century and early versions were often elaborate molded affairs. Pasta salads are an offshoot of this and typically use other forms of “macaroni” (shells, bow-ties, rotini) and are dressed with a vinaigrette style dressing.
The recipe for the Macaroni Salad below is courtesy of the my mother and really is “the best”. My mom makes this every summer, usually served with some sort of smoked pulled pork and it’s so good, people will come to dinner just because they hear it’s on the menu. We fight over the leftovers.
Do you have a favorite version of macaroni salad? Let me know in the comments below.
Ingredients for Classic Macaroni Salad
- 8 ounces macaroni (“salad” or “elbow” cut)
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
- ¾ cup diced celery
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Boil the macaroni in salted water until tender. Drain and chill.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked macaroni, chopped hard boiled eggs, diced celery and onions, and chopped parsley.
- Into the bowl with the macaroni, add the mustard, sweet pickle relish, mayonnaise and stir to combine. Mix in the salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce and taste for seasoning. Adjust as needed and refrigerate. Check seasoning and texture before serving because sometimes the macaroni will need more moisture (mayonnaise) after absorbing some of the dressing while in the refrigerator
Classic Macaroni Salad
* The comment about jello is a nod to some of my coworkers who have an ongoing argument every year about if “jello salad” is a salad or a dessert. I am firmly in the dessert camp on that one.
This post is part 3 in a series on emulsified sauces. To read part 1 which covers history and how to make Hollandaise Sauce, go here. Part 2 is all about How to Make Homemade Mayonnaise.
Buerre Blanc is a creamy butter and white wine sauce (literal translation “white butter”) which is emulsified without the use of eggs. In this sauce, the fat of the butter is suspended in a reduction of wine and vinegar, often aided with a small amount of cream.
The tang of wine and some sort of acid (vinegar or citrus) does not disappear with the addition of butter. It simply enhances the flavor of anything paired with it. Buerre blanc is a perfect pair for seafood and the addition of a bit of mustard makes it an excellent companion for beef or pork.
In the photo below, the sole was dredged in flour, sauteed in butter, and then topped it with this tangy sauce. Buerre Blanc also does well with poached salmon, halibut, scallops, and shrimp. The sauce is very flexible; consider adding fresh herbs, citrus juice and/or zest, capers, whole grain mustard, green or pink peppercorns to change up the flavors.
Like other warm emulsified sauces, Buerre Blanc’s weakness is heat. Never let the sauce come to a boil and always whisk in very cold butter, a small amount at a time over a very low heat. As mentioned above, a small amount of cream added before the butter can be a stabilizing factor.
Sauteed Sole with Buerre Blanc
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- ¾ cup white wine
- ¼ cup white wine or champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cream (optional)
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted cold butter
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- In a small heavy bottomed sauce pot, add the wine, vinegar and shallots.
- Cook over medium heat to bring the liquid to a simmer then reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer on low until the liquid is reduced to a syrup. Take care not to allow it to burn near the end of the reduction.
- Whisk in the cream. Then slowly whisk in 1 tablespoon of cold butter, one at a time, until it is all incorporated and the sauce is a creamy emulsion.
- Season to taste with the salt and pepper. If you prefer a smooth sauce, strain out the shallots.
- Serve immediately or keep warm for up to an hour over a double boiler.
Options for additional flavors for the Buerre Blanc; fresh herbs, citrus juice and/or zest, capers, whole grain mustard, green or pink peppercorns.