Common Core, Potato Salad, Impact Of World War I

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time

Even though it’s been 100 years since the start of World War One, many parts of the world are still deeply affected by that conflict. Rob Ferrett and Gene Purcell find out how the war still echoes today. They also speak with Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt about Governor Walker’s request that the state legislature repeal the Common Core standards. Then, on Food Friday, they learn about the seemingly infinite variety of potato salads.

Featured in this Show

  • 3 Variations On Potato Salad, From WPR's In-House Foodie

    Summer is known for picnics and barbecues — and, of course, that creamy comfort food, potato salad. Who doesn’t fondly recall growing up with mom or grandma’s potato salad?

    But therein lies a conundrum: No two potato salads are alike. In fact, everyone seems to have their own version of the classic summer dish.

    “There is no one way to make potato salad,” said Wisconsin Public Radio’s classical music host and in-house foodie Lori Skelton.

    Skelton herself confesses to a special fondness for her mother’s basic American potato salad: “I’ve actually stood next to her in the kitchen, and duplicated her movements, potato by mayonnaise by egg, and I can never get my potato salad to taste like my mother’s.”

    Skelton thinks of potato salad as a blank canvas.

    “Besides the fact that everyone has their own take on it, you’re working with a starch… something that can take on so many flavors,” she said. “If you want it hotter, people suggest Sriracha sauce or jalapeños. If you want it milder, you up the amount of mayonnaise or add sour cream.”

    Regardless of all the different possibilities, Skelton has a few general suggestions for those making potato salad:

    • Mind what type of potato is used — it can have a significant effect on each type of potato salad. More about this in the recipes below.
    • It helps to season the water in which you cook the potatoes with salt or some sliced onions or a bay leaf. Seasoning the potatoes while cooking will improve the overall flavor of the salad.
    • For those watching their weight, use less mayonnaise.

    Skelton recently experimented with making American, German, and French salads. Below you’ll find a basic recipe for potato salad. After that, you’ll find instructions for each of the three varieties, with specifics on potato type, potato preparation, and ingredients.

    Instructions for Preparing a Basic Potato Salad

    For 4 to 6 servings:

    • 2 pounds of potatoes (to determine what type of potato to use, see individual salad variations)
    • Other ingredients (Also specified in individual salad variations(

    Put potatoes in a large saucepan or Dutch oven with enough water to cover. Add seasoning to water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender. (Cooking times may vary anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes according to the type of potato used. If you can easily slide a thin-bladed knife into the potato, it’s ready.)

    Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Prepare the potatoes as specified in each recipe, then fold in the ingredients, reserving the herbs for last.

    All-American Potato Salad

    “There are certain things you just don’t want to get too snooty about,” said Skelton, advocating for keeping this classic salad as simple as possible.

    “Use Russet potatoes,” she suggested. “They will cook up a bit mealier, so they’ll actually fall apart as you blend the salad together.”

    Remember to season the water in which the potatoes are boiled as suggested above.

    German Potato Salad

    For this one, Skelton suggests a potato you can peel but is lower in starch, like Gold Yukon.

    “This is a potato salad that has to be served hot and therefore you have to put it together at the last minute,” said Skelton.

    French Potato Salad

    This is a potato salad that is sliced, rather than cubed or mashed and relies on an excellent French vinaigrette for flavor.

    • Potato variety: Russet.

    • What to do with potatoes after boiling: Leave them whole — they should fall apart during mixing.

    • Other ingredients:

      • 1 medium rib celery, finely sliced
      • 3 tablespoons of pickle relish
      • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
      • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
      • 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
      • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
      • 3/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
      • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
      • 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley leaves
      • 2 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes

    • Other instructions: Add fresh ground pepper and salt to taste, and serve fairly cold.

      • Potato variety: Gold Yukon, or something else lower in starch

      • What to do with potatoes after boiling: Peel and slice into 1/2-inch cubes.

      • Other ingredients:

        • 1 medium onion, chopped fine (about one cup)
        • 1/2 cup white vinegar
        • 1 tablespoon German stone-ground mustard
        • 8 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
        • 1 teaspoon of horseradish (for a surprising twist on this classic recipe)

      • Other instructions: Serve hot.

      • Potato variety: Red

      • What to do with potatoes after boiling: Don’t peel; cut into 1/4-inch slices.

      • Other ingredients:

        • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
        • 1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
        • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
        • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
        • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
        • 1 small shallot, chopped
        • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
        • 2 teaspoons fresh tarragon
        • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped fine
        • salt to taste

      • Other instructions: Serve at room temperature, as soon as possible after preparation.

  • Gov. Walker Tells State Legislature To Repeal Common Core Standards

    On Thursday Governor Walker asked the state legislature to repeal the state’s Common Core standards. This as not a policy change, but the first time he’s made the direct request. Rep. Thiesfeldt from Fond du Lac weighs in on the request. He tried and failed to repeal the state’s Common Core standards last session.

  • Food Friday: Potato Salad

    Potato salad is a summer barbecue and potluck staple…but everyone seems to make it a little differently. One of WPR’s in-house foodies shares the different kinds of potato salad and shares some of her favorite recipes.

  • How World War One Still Echoes Today

    A hundred years after the first world war, the massive conflict’s impacts are still being felt, but little understood. A historian traces the long shadow of the great war.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Jeremy Thiesfeldt Guest
  • David Reynolds Guest

Related Stories