I would like to make a simple potato salad. How many minutes do you parboil potatoes?
First, I would like to explain what parboiling is. Very dense vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, are often parboiled before being added to a stir-fry or potpie, where they would take much longer to cook than the rest of the ingredients. You precook them briefly so they will be perfectly cooked when all the rest of the ingredients are done.
That said, let’s get to the potato salad question. I think there is nothing worse than crunchy potatoes in potato salad. Everything is creamy and yummy, and then you get a piece of raw potato in your mouth and it ruins the entire experience. Parboiling potatoes would give you exactly that: half-cooked potatoes. Yuck.
I put myself through college working in the deli of a huge grocery store in Omaha, Neb., and making an easy potato salad paid my tuition. Here is what I know, 10,000 pounds later:
- To prepare, scrub the skin of the potatoes. You can use light-skinned white potatoes or the darker brown russets, also known as Idaho or baking potatoes. Place them whole in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a medium simmer. The water shouldn’t be at a rolling boil, because the potatoes will bounce around and fall apart as they get close to being fully cooked. It takes at least 15 to 30 minutes to cook a good-size russet potato all the way through. I always pull one out and check it by piercing it all the way to the middle with a knife. Also, when they are done, the skin will often begin to break.
- Gently drain the potatoes, and then peel them when they are just cool enough to handle. The hotter they are, the easier they are to peel. Cut them into cubes as soon as possible. When I was making 100 pounds at a time, I used a cutter that was a handheld wire grid. All the pieces came out the same size, and it was really quick.
- If you like to use red potatoes, you won’t need to cook them as long because they are smaller. Also, a lot of people like to keep the peel on red potatoes. It’s a nice color contrast and it saves time. Whichever you use, I hope they are perfectly cooked, and that the only crunch in your salad is from the celery.