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Potato salad and alfresco dining go hand-in-hand in summer. A big bowl of creamy potato salad is a must-have for picnics and barbecues.

We can all relate to the classic American mixture of boiled potatoes, onions, celery, hard-cooked eggs and pickles folded together with mayo or Miracle Whip. And for that version, we turn to Lee Clayton Roper, a Denver-based cookbook author whose go-to recipe is “Dorothy’s Potato Salad.”

But we can’t leave out tangy German potato salad, made without mayonnaise and served at room temperature. We can thank Ule Wimberger, owner and chef at Wimberger’s Bakery and Deli, for her delicious contribution.

And for something completely unique, we turned to Beau Green, executive chef at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo restaurants. This award-winning professional is known for his unique twists on ordinary dishes — and his kimchi potato salad is a perfect example of his playful way with flavors. Kimchi is the spicy fermented cabbage condiment that’s the cornerstone of Korean dishes.

Potato selection and cooking.These salads are nothing without the right spud, so what’s the best type for the job? Roper goes with russets “because they have more starch than waxy potatoes. White and Yukon golds are reliable in-between potatoes to always have around if you can’t find russets,” she said.

Before the pandemic, Wimberger was making 100 to 150 pounds of German potato salad twice a week for the deli; now she makes closer to 70 pounds. She uses Yukon gold spuds.

Roper and Wimberger boil the potatoes whole.

“You need to start this recipe at least four hours ahead, preferably the day before,” Roper said. “I think the salad is more flavorful if you mix a bit of olive oil and vinegar into the cooked, peeled and chopped potatoes while they are still warm. Then let them chill overnight in the fridge before adding the rest of the ingredients.”

Wimberger boils the potatoes until they are just fork-tender and lets them cool enough to handle and peel them.

“The skin comes off easier after the potatoes have been cooked,” she said.

Green is a red potato fan.

“I cook them whole in salted water and then cool,” he said. “Once cooled, pop potatoes open by hand and reserve.”

Dressing the salad.

Here’s where the chefs go their own creative ways. Roper goes with mayonnaise and French’s yellow mustard — never Dijon — per the dictates of the recipe’s creator, the mother of her childhood best friend, Katey. “Katey and I became fast friends in first grade — a friendship that’s still going strong today. As kids, we ate dinner at least one night a week at each other’s house.”

One of Roper’s favorite treats at the Hartwell house was Mrs. Hartwell’s potato salad.

“Over the years, she grew famous for it, and an annual summer dinner with hot dogs and her potato salad quickly became a tradition,” she said.

Wimberger makes a bacon, onion and vinegar dressing.

“While the potatoes are cooking, fry some bacon and add chopped onions,” she said. “When the bacon is crisp and the onions cooked down, add vinegar. This gets boiled down to make a dressing.”

Wimberger slices the peeled potatoes and tosses them with the dressing while the potatoes are still warm.

“The salad can be served warm or at room temperature,” she said. “I never reheat it. Since there’s no mayo used, it’s safe to be at room temperature for several hours. It’s a classic dish to serve with snappy wieners. My mother would serve it as a meal with hard-cooked eggs on Fridays when I was a little girl, when we didn’t eat meat.”

Green’s dressing is simple.

“Take a handful of drained kimchi and rough chop, almost like a relish, and reserve,” he said. “And a good mayo. I’m a Hellman’s fan myself, a little bit of ketchup and sriracha to taste.”

Kimchi can be purchased at Asian Pacific Market.

Green finishes the salad with green onions sliced chiffonade, or “on the bias,” he said.

“Combine potatoes, onions and dressing in an appropriately sized bowl and season with salt and pepper taste,” Green said. “This is one of my fave side dishes for any BBQ or grill n’ chill event.”

Contact the writer: 636-0271.

This content was originally published here.