CHARLIE'S CAFE EXCEPTIONALE POTATO SALAD

  • Updated: December 23, 2009 - 11:06 AM

CHARLIE'S CAFE EXCEPTIONALE POTATO SALAD

Serves 6.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. "Many recipes have floated around for Charlie's 'exceptionale' potato salad," wrote Linda Koutsky and Kathryn Strand Koutsky in "Minnesota Eats Out: An Illustrated History" (Minnesota Historical Society Press, $34.95). True, including several versions published in Taste (it was the readers' most requested recipe for more than 20 years). A 1989 iteration, part of a Taste 20th-anniversary celebration, led Charlie's owner, Louise Saunders, to quickly rebuke its veracity and that of its predecessors. "[Saunders] said the time has come to stop using it, 'because the recipe is incorrect,'" wrote Star Tribune reader representative Lou Gelfand a few days after it was published. Saunders insisted that not only were the true ingredients known only to her and to two others, but that the salad was always prepared in stages, which prevented employees from devising -- and, presumably, stealing -- the coveted formula. This version, blessed by Saunders, was composed by longtime St. Paul Pioneer Press food writer Eleanor Ostman for "Minnesota Eats Out." The restaurant closed on July 21, 1982, after a 49-year run; Saunders died in 2003.

For mayonnaise:

• 1 pasteurized egg yolk

• 1 tsp. dry mustard

• 1 tsp. sugar

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

• 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided

• 1 c. vegetable oil

For salad:

• 5 medium potatoes, freshly cooked, peeled and diced

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

• 2 tbsp. or more chopped green onion

• 1 to 2 tbsp. finely chopped red bell pepper

• 3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and diced (or more to taste)

Directions

To prepare mayonnaise: In a blender, combine egg yolk, mustard, sugar, salt, cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar. Blend at medium speed, adding oil in a thin stream until mixture thickens. Add remaining lemon juice. Makes 13/4 cups.

To prepare salad: Place diced potatoes in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Gently mix in green onion, red pepper and eggs. Stir in about 11/4 cups dressing, adding more if needed (Charlie's was a very creamy potato salad) and mix gently. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours before serving.

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