So much of our beloved foods and recipes are loved for the memories attached to them, just as much as the taste. This potato salad is the best potato salad I have ever tasted (in my life) but there is a reason beyond that which makes it even more special.
Thomas Pit BBQ was an icon in Madison County. I don’t know when it was opened or how long it was in business but I can definitely say more than my lifetime. People would line up and sit in their cars for 45+ minutes to get their juicy smoked chicken, pulled pork bbq, white sauce, and potato salad (among other things). Everything on their menu was amazing. What was even more amazing is that if you ordered a plate in that window in 1980 and then in 2014, you likely had the same people preparing that food and handing that plate to you. We knew them. They were friends and family and we expected to see them when we went to Thomas’s.
My parents used to own a business down the road from Thomas’s and from time to time the owner would trade out bbq plates for goods from Mama and Daddy. We always got the good end of the deal with those transactions :).
But a few months back Thomas’s was bought out by a local chain bbq place. The employees were given less than a days notice and we all watched in horror as the building was torn down and cleared to make way for a new building.
There isn’t a lot anyone can do now so I set about trying to recreate the two recipes that I went there for. I came awfully close with my Dutch Oven Smokehouse Chicken and of course we all have the classic Alabama White BBQ Sauce recipe. Several years ago I figured out how to best duplicate slow smoked pulled pork by using my slow cooker. Today, though, I’m bringing you the recipe that had emails pouring in to me after Thomas’s closed. Folks who know how I love the place immediately started emailing me “I wish you would come up with Thomas’s potato salad recipe!” and my mother has been leading the charge. “Christy, we have to come up with a potato salad like Thomas!” This is a very unique potato salad with an incredible flavor that runs throughout every single bite. My recipe is not the actual recipe they use, I don’t have that, but Mama and I believe it is close enough to pass for it.
So while I can’t bring Thomas Pit BBQ back, I can make my favorite dishes from there and tell my kids about a little bbq joint that used to have folks lining up for wait times few would even consider today – and I can give them a taste of why.
You’ll need: Mayo*, Yellow Mustard, Cubed Southern Style Hash Browns, Sweet Pickles in a jar (not relish), 3-4 boiled eggs, yellow onion, and salt and pepper.
*Okay y’all. I’m not a mayonnaise person. I will eat it in a recipe with no problem but I’m just not someone who ever says “Ooh, yay, mayonnaise.” But so many of you carry on and on about Duke’s that I bought it for this recipe. Once I added it, I licked the spoon a little bit. I’m still not in the “oooh yay, mayonnaise” camp but I will say that it was decidedly different and much better tasting than any mayo I have had before, so you win :).
Place your potatoes (hash browns) in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring this to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, allow to cook for about ten minutes, or until tender. Drain.
Place potatoes in a large bowl.
Now here is the thing and I don’t have a lot of pictures to represent it so just really pay attention here because this is important. You need to dice, by hand, 1/2 cup of sweet pickles and 1/2 cup of onion. Once they are diced you want 1/2 a cup.
Now, take that half a cup of each (I just put them all together) and run it through a blender, chopper, little smoothie mixer, or something like that because we want it really, really fine. We don’t want it to be a puree but we want it minced like this. This will help that flavor spread throughout every bite of potato salad and is really one of the keys to why this is so good.
Use a hand potato masher or a long tined fork and mash up the potatoes a little bit. You still want them to be lumpy but just a good bit of mashed in there with the lumps.
Add all other ingredients except for the eggs. So you’re adding in your mayo, mustard, minced pickles and onions, salt, pepper, and pickle juice. The pickle juice just comes straight from the jar of sweet pickles. That’s why I didn’t want you to get sweet pickle relish because there isn’t enough juice in there.
Stir that up really good.
Then chop your eggs and add them in.
Now I don’t believe Thomas’ Potato Salad had eggs in it but I just love boiled eggs in potato salad. If you love them, be sure and add them in. If you don’t, feel free to leave them out. For me, they just make it extra special.
Once eggs are stirred in, cover and refrigerate several hours or until chilled.
Enjoy the best potato salad I have ever put in my mouth!
Copycat Thomas BBQ Potato Salad
- 32 ounce package cubed frozen hash browns
- 4 eggs, chopped
- ½ cup diced onion
- ½ cup chopped sweet pickles
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup sweet pickle juice
- 1 heaping teaspoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of pepper
- Place hash browns in large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, allow to cook for ten minutes, or until tender.
- Drain potatoes and place in a large bowl. Mash all of this up a bit with a potato masher, but leave lumpy.
- Place chopped sweet pickles and chopped onion into a blender, chopper, or small smoothie blender and pulse a few times until very fine, almost like a relish.
- Place mayonaise, pickle juice, mustard, finely minced pickles and onions, salt, and pepper in bowl with potatoes. Stir until well mixed. Stir in chopped eggs until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate several hours or until cold. Enjoy!
Hey Everyone! I’ve heard from a LOT of people (please emphasize “lot” as much as possible when you read this) that they:
A. Feel confident Thomas’s used dill instead of sweet pickle.
B. Can’t bear the thought of sweet pickle in a potato salad and prefer dill.
So I just wanted to pop in and reiterate that this is my version of the recipe and as a person who really, really loves sweet pickles, that is what I naturally used. You, of course, are welcome to substitute dill if that is what you prefer. There is a good chance that is what Thomas’s used since they served dill pickle spears with some of their entrees. Just go with whatever cranks yer tractor.
Thank you to everyone who let me know this. You’ve kept my inbox from being lonely, that’s for sure! 🙂
Well done is better than well said.