Diary

German Potato Salad


Ask me about my food favorites and I would be hard pressed to describe any particular cuisine as my favorite. The fact of my life is that I am an American who has primarily Polish heritage born at the end of the 1940’s. All of that means that my immigrant grandparents brought a lot of Polish ideas to their cooking, my parents saw the Great Depression and WWII as well as the Great Awakening of the American Palate that resulted after the war/. I grew up with casseroles and mayonnaise. We knew about Iceberg lettuce and not a lot more; every different vegetable in the world wasn’t available and even if it was my Great Depression Kid parents wouldn’t have bought the expensive ones even if they could be found in the store.

After marrying Peg & I started trying out all the foods we could find, here and on our limited travels outside the U.S. I had jobs that enabled us to try many of the best restaurants in Milwaukee and a lot of really fine restaurants on our travels — but for all of our experimenting the flavors were mostly “periodic additions” as opposed to replacements for our regular fare. Peg had grown up with a more limited menu — she had Irish and English and German backgrounds and my Eastern European love of sweet sour came as a surprise along with a great many other flavors. But we had a great time experimenting; and still do.

I was probably in my early teens before I had my first bite o f potato salad that was not German Potato Salad. All the potato salads I remember as a youth were made with utility grade Russet potatoes and had a bit of a tang from vinegar and sugar as any good German potato salad will. The idea of putting Mayo in a salad with potatoes sounded completely bonkers at that age, but now I think nothing of it or any other kinds of salads you choose to throw at me. Still, my fallback favorite is still the German version. Top it with crispy cooked bacon bits (the real ones, not the fake), some chopped chives, or even better a little more dill and could make an entire meal from a big bowl — even if it isn’t waistline friendly.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds baby potatoes
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (to be honest, I grew up making it with regular old white vinegar but the apple cider kind does taste better)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp
  • 2 1/2 T Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped dill

Instructions

  • Place the potatoes in a large pot of lightly salted water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 13 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
  • Drain potatoes and quickly run them under cold water until cool to the touch. Then transfer to a cutting board and carefully slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crispy on both sides, about 6 minutes total. Once crisp, place on a paper towel-lined plate to cool for a minute. Then transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop into small pieces. Drain about half of the bacon grease from the pan, then place the pan back over medium heat.
  • Add the onion into the skillet with the remaining bacon grease and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  • In a spouted measuring cup combine the the apple cider vinegar, both sugars, dijon mustard, corn starch, salt and pepper, dill, and stir until well combined and the corn starch has dissolved. Pour into the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, or until bubbling and slightly thickened. 
  • Add in the bacon and the sliced potatoes and toss to coat. Cook for 1 minute, then transfer to a serving dish. 
  • Serve warm, serve cold, serve any way you want!!!!!!

Ideas

  • considering running your cut potato chunks through the microwave (times will vary with your cut-piece-sizes and microwave power). The microwave will slightly reduce the water content of the ‘taters and can be a nice change from the usual way of doing it. Do several smaller batches rather than trying to do them all at once, but you will still probably spend less time cooking the taters than boiling them.
  • don’t be a slave to round slices either. chunks are just as tasty.
  • I buy 3lb. blocks of bacon at the local restaurant supply store — so rather than fry my bacon up in strips I slice across the end of the block and have uniform slices of bacon which I then fry in the pan.
  • Oh, and that part about pouring off 1/2 of the bacon fat — well, my grandmother was a pork junkie. And a lot of her salads were made with a vinegar and oil dressing — which might suggest, you guessed it, that she used all of the bacon grease and while cooking the vinegar/water/sugar/dill mixture did a little extra whisking to incorporate the bacon grease just as you would homogenize vinegar a oil in a dressing.
my kind of bacon. 🙂
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