The observance of National food days eludes me. I’m lucky if I can remember to eat more than once a day; I’m never going to remember what food I should be celebrating. When I looked at the list of days on Wikipedia recently, I was appalled to realize I’d missed so many good food days. Maybe if they were food months I’d get around to celebrating them.
We do always remember to celebrate Oktoberfest in October, however. I ‘ve posted pork schnitzel and braised cabbage so far; this will be my final salute to Oktoberfest. Which brings me to my favorite vegetable that really is a starch: the potato. Potatoes figure largely in both of my heritages: the Norwegians and Germans both like to include potatoes in nearly every meal. Usually it’s either swimming in butter, fried in butter, or buttered later. The recipe today doesn’t even contain butter, it’s the other way Germans eat potatoes- in a vinegar-based salad.
Hot German Potato salad, when done well, is a feast for the senses. The smell of the vinegar, bacon and spices alone, before the food hits your mouth, makes you anticipate its importance. It’s a food I don’t make nearly often enough, and never remember why. It’s fairly easy and I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand.
I had a bag of Red River Valley small potatoes on hand, which I envisioned simply cut into fourths and boiled in the skins. I like my German potato salad with skins on. I scrubbed the potatoes, cut them into similar sized pieces, then put them into lightly salted water and brought them to a boil over high heat.
Turning them down, I let them lightly bubble away until they were just fork tender. I didn’t want them to get mushy later when they were baked for 30 minutes to become one with the sauce.
While the potatoes were boiling, I sautéed 6 strips of bacon I’d diced, along with ½ cup of diced onion. When they were browned I set them aside and used the bacon drippings to make the sauce.
I whisked together the rest of the dressing ingredients and added them to the drippings in the skillet. I poured the dressing over the potatoes and bacon mixture and tossed them until they were coated.
I chopped some fresh parsley and added it to the dish instead of afterwards as a garnish.
I put the potatoes into a ovenproof dish and put them into a 350°F oven for 30 minutes. I served them as a side dish along with the Vienna Style Pork Schnitzel and braised cabbage I’ve previously posted.
I daresay this was my best German potato salad ever. It was luscious with the sharp acidic flavor of the sauce and the smoky flavor of the bacon. The potatoes were just right; not too soft and not too firm. It was a return to childhood and those rare times my Mom made it for dinner. Again I wondered why I don’t make it more often. I need to put it on my list. My P.S. (Potato Supplier/hubby) adores it as well and it would have a willing reception on any given night.
German Potato Salad
4 – 6 small potatoes (I used 13 very small potatoes)
4 slices bacon; finely diced
1 teaspoon salt (use less if you salt your water while boiling potatoes)
1/4 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
5 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons oil
1/4 cup onion; diced
parsley for garnish (I added 1/4 cup to the dish before baking)
black pepper to taste
Scrub and quarter the potatoes (I skipped the peeling). Boil in a large saucepan until the potatoes are almost fork tender.
In a nonstick skillet, fry the bacon until it begins to brown; add the onions and fry until bacon is fully browned and crispy. Set onions and bacon aside in a dish and reserve the bacon drippings.
To the reserved drippings add the whisked together salt, vinegar, sugar, water and oil. Heat the dressing, then pour it over the potatoes and bacon in a bowl. Toss until coated. Taste for seasoning, adding black pepper to taste.
Put potato mixture into a ovenproof dish and place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Serve garnished with chives or parsley.