Monday, July 16, 2012

Pioneer Woman: Best Macaroni Salad Ever

Let's be honest, folks.  Pioneer Woman sometimes overstates stuff ... just a little.

We've tried a handful of "best-ever" stuff and amazing stuff, and although most of them have been successful, I'm not sure we'd have always given them the same superlatives.

And on top of that, Jennifer over at Come Rain or Come Shine said she wasn't particularly thrilled by this one.

And I'm from NY and I am p-i-c-k-y about macaroni salad.

Eh. Wasn't boding well. 

Throw all that negativity out the window!!

This stuff really is the best macaroni salad ever.  Ree and I are in complete cosmic agreement about how to balance vinegar and mayo, and how much coverage there should be ... what needs to go in it ...

And oh, yes.  Mick and I are thrilled by the introduction of just a modest amount of kick.

This stuff is good, my friends, GOOD.

So.  The review.

PW: Best Macaroni Salad Ever

Verdict:  Indeed, it may well be.  Especially with some of our little twists.
Make it again: Heck to the yes!
Cost Factor:  Not bad.  We did have to shop for it as a specific recipe, so scallions, pimentos, etc., but that's normal for mac salad generally, or at least in this house.

I wish I had taken more photos, but I didn't.  As CAM would say, (and point your finger as you say this), "Sorry 'bout that!"

In any event, there are a few things happening here.

First, the ingredients:

Elbows, pimentos or roasted red peppers (we went with pimentos because I didn't feel like chopping, I knew we'd use the entire little jar as opposed to having a giant jar of red peppers to have to schlep on our move, and because I wanted the saltiness -- whoops, these are pimentos in a jar, not pimentos from olives, dummy), mayo, milk, salt and pepper, scallions, black olives, and spicy/sweet pickles.

In Jennifer's review, she mentioned she used Wickles.  I think I've seen her refer to them before.  I had to buy fabric at WalMart (yes, WalMart -- it was the only stinkin' place to have the kind I was searching for, which is frustrating because then you can't use a coupon), and of all things, I knew that if I was going to find these around here, I'd have a better shot at WalMart than at Kroger or Publix.  Yes, believe it or not, if you want quirky regional stuff, WalMart tends to carry it -- certainly with more likelihood than the regular grocery stores, and we don't live even remotely convenient to a specialty store.  Sure enough, WalMart had them.

Wow, that was a crazy paragraph.

Second, Wickles may be the best thing ever.

We're going to be buying a case of these before we leave for Maine, I can assure you.

And I especially love the story.  It gives me hope.

Okay, okay. Lots of tangents today.  I'm typing this in tiny breaks as I tutor, and you can tell, can't you?!

Now, this is also a slight tangent, but it's worth mentioning:  as I was making this yesterday, I thought to myself how I really don't tend to rate macaroni salads.  I've had some dang amazing potato salads in my day (sadly, my all-time favorite was served at a restaurant in Tuscaloosa that just closed its doors for good two weeks ago), stuff that stays in my memory as "remember the potato salad from ...," but in my little world to date, there's no such phenomenon for macaroni salad.  Mac salad just doesn't tend to wow me.  And I don't mean that cynically -- I've just never encountered one good enough to think "Oh.  Oh, my.  I need this recipe."  I guess it's kind-of like carpet.  You notice it, some is nicer than others, but you don't go around thinking, "you know, the nicest carpet EVER was at ..." So I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, but didn't have high expectations because I just didn't expect it to be on the list of things I rank.  I rank pedicures and birthdays and roller coasters and grocery stores, and even pasta salads, but I don't know that I would ever rank a macaroni salad.  So to call it "best ever" really made me wonder if there was some mojo magic going on.  Does that make any sense at all?

Third thing.  The recipe actually does something a little strange.  It says to make the dressing and then only to use 3/4 of it; the rest is to save for later in case you decide you want more, and otherwise to pitch the extra.  (We used 3/4 of it, and a few hours later I did decide to add the rest.  But I have a theory about this.  I think that however much dressing you add to macaroni salad initially will all get absorbed and you'll go back and think it's dry.  But if you only add part of your dressing and then go back and add the rest after that first dose has had time to absorb into the macaroni, your "extra" dressing actually does get to stay on top.  It works, I promise.)

And finally, the last time we made a macaroni salad recipe from PW, I was careless and cooked -- and used -- the entire box of macaroni when the recipe only called for about four cups.  That was dumb, dumb, dumb, and our salad was dry, dry, dry and bland, bland, bland!  This time I still made the entire pound of macaroni, but when it was done, I scooped four cups of cooked pasta and saved the rest for the kids.  (Actually, Dad, if you're reading this -- I drowned the rest in butter.  Drowned.  And it was delicious!)*

Back on track...

We made this.  We chilled this. Mick and I are the only two people in the house who would eat this, and it's gone.  It was ready around dinnertime last night, and it's now lunchtime today and there is not a bite left.

Not a single bite.

Look at this gigantic bowl of macaroni salad.  Mick and I devoured in in less than a day.

*My dad loves elbow macaroni drowned in butter, served with pan-fried hamburgers.  Maybe it's the city kid in him, growing up in Queens without a grill at his disposal?  Anyway, it's a family favorite and it is both simple and divine.  Simply divine!


  1. 1. Thanks for the shout-out.

    2. Four cups of cooked pasta! Maybe that was my problem - I'll give it another go because I really did like the components separately.

    3. Wickles Pickled Okra. I'm just sayin'.

    Love reading your blog!

    1. OH!! I saw the pickled okra and decided to see if we liked the Wickles first. Don't worry. There will be all things Wickle in our house tomorrrow. Holy cow are they amazing.

      And I am happy to give you the shout out! It's kind-of like tagging on Facebook. If I mention you, I may as well give people the easy link to get on over and take a read! :)

    2. Oh, and thanks about reading my blog. I'm glad! :)

  2. Ok, yeah, your point about the quantity of macaroni makes sense. I thought it was good, but not really good. I guess it was too noodle-y, haha. I'll give it another try at some point since I still have all those ingredients on hand!

    1. After the debacle of the LAST PW macaroni salad where I totally used the entire pound, I decided to give this one a fair shake and actually follow the directions this time. :) I really do think it makes all the difference!