Tuesday, January 27, 2015

German Potato Salad

When I was a child, mom did the cooking. It wasn't that dad couldn't or wouldn't cook. He worked. Mom was a stay at home mom. She had dinner ready when dad got home. On summer weekends dad would grill. On Christmas Eve he was in charge of the ribs and Williamsburg BBQ Sauce. And once or twice during the cold, snowy winters, dad would make German Potato Salad.
I'm not sure why German Potato Salad was dad's job. My mom made regular potato salad. Mom did a lot of cooking. She could have easily whipped this up. If I recall correctly, she would fry the bacon and dad would do the rest of this dish. Maybe dad always made it because it was something my grandma (his mom) always made? She's the German side of the family. Except that I don't remember my grandma ever making this dish. Only dad.
Whatever the case, I remember my dad making this one Sunday in our first home. I was probably in first grade. My brother and I stayed in a corner of the dining room, peeking into the kitchen, watching daddy cook. Dad was cooking! At that time, we were used to potato salad meaning my grandma's mayonnaise potato salad. This was hot potato salad? With bacon? And vinegar? What the heck?
My first bite and I was hooked. The salty bacon. Tangy vinegar. Sweet sugar. Soft potatoes. Crispy celery. Smooth egg bits. Slightly browned onions. It was so good. This is one of my favorite dishes.
SP likes it, too. We made it this past weekend. We ate it along with huge helping of blanched and sauteed green beans with lemon zest & juice. German Potato Salad is easy to make and it's one of those dishes that can be easily customized to particular tastes. My dad likes a lot of dressing - potatoes dripping in dressing. And egg - lots of egg. I like lots of bacon. Mom likes lots of finely chopped celery. I'm not sure of the source of the recipe. I've only ever seen it scribbled in dad's handwriting on a note card stained with vinegar splashes. But here's how my dad does it:

Basic German Potato Salad Recipe

5 lb bag red potatoes
Onion, chopped, sauteed
1 package of bacon, cut into cubes, cooked and 3-4 tbsp grease reserved
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, finely diced, not cooked

¼ cup apple cider vinegar
4 tsp sugar
½ cup water
3-4 tbsp bacon grease from cooked bacon

Boil potatoes, cool, peel, chop. Saute onions. Cook chopped bacon. Reserve 3-4 tbsp bacon grease for sauce. Drain bacon well.

Put potatoes, eggs, celery, cooked bacon, onion, and parsley in casserole dish. Make dressing by whisking together bacon grease, water, apple cider vinegar, and sugar. Mix dressing into potato mixture. The potatoes absorb a lot of the dressing so you might need more (another ½ batch or whole batch, depending on how much dressing you want on the salad). Bake 350 until warm.

*If making extra dressing, do not add extra bacon grease, only use the 3-4 tbsp.
*We halve the recipe for the 2 of us, using about  2.5~3 lbs potatoes which gives us 3 dinners.
*We make a full batch of dressing for 2.5~3 potatoes and reserve a few tablespoons for reheating.
*We use a 9 x 13 casserole then divide it into smaller casseroles for reheating.
*Ours took about 20-25 minutes to warm in the oven.
*Reheat uncovered, adding extra dressing to keep it from drying out.

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