This recipe for Old Fashion German Potato Salad has been handed down to me from my mother; as it was handed down to her. It's the pickles! Trust me.
My family story behind the making of Old Fashion German Potato Salad
Old Fashion German Potato Salad is a warm potato salad that my mother often made; most often with wurst. Why do I call it "old fashion?" Well, as I said my mother made it, and she's 90 so she's old fashion. Right?
It's the pickles, and the way you put this together, and the dressing, that makes this potato salad unique.
OK...my mother might be 90 but she's not really old fashion. As a matter of fact, she's pretty new fashion. She's on Facebook and has hundreds of friends, mostly younger, well, all younger. And she's very active. Gardening, doing the weed whacking and she even stacks her own firewood. And she gets 2 cords. Anyone who gets firewood knows that 2 cords is A LOT of wood. She doesn't try to stack it all in one day, but she breaks it down into manageable parts...and does it over the course of a few weeks. Now that seems like a pretty good philosophy for life doesn't it. Break it down into manageable parts. All this keeps her a young and vibrant 90.
But still, a recipe that has been around for as long as she has been, has to be called old fashion. Or is it old-fashioned? Either way, it's an oldie, but a goodie.
And the German part is right as well. It's a family recipe that she got from her family, in Germany, before she came to the states. While there are many recipes out there that call themselves "authentic" and "classic" German potato salads, none of them is like this Old Fashion German Potato Salad.
It's the pickles.
And the way you put this together.
And the dressing.
Put them together and what have you got? Old Fashion German Potato Salad.
The Potato Difference
One of the differences I've contributed from the original family recipe is; I use Yukon gold potatoes rather than russets. In the old fashion days, you could not find Yukon gold potatoes in the grocery store. You had your choice of russet or white rose. And of those two, the russet was the better choice. I like the Yukon gold because I don't have to peel them and they are not as starchy as a russet. But you could use a russet if you so desire. If you do, peel them when they are warm (a game of hot potato anyone?). You could also use a red skin potato, but those are a bit waxier than the Yukon gold, so your dressing saturation will not be as pronounced.
It's in the Dressing
The dressing is the trickiest part to try to explain. This is mostly due to the fact that I don't know how much fat your bacon is going to give off. If your bacon is super lean, it may not give you enough. Too much fat is easily removed. But too little...that can be a bit more problematic. And if you don't store bacon fat like I do in the refrigerator (and why don't you?) you won't have any to add to make it the right ratio. And there is no substitute. So if your bacon is super lean, make more, save the bacon for another use and just use the fat.
So what's the proper ratio?
To make this salad dressing properly, you need the right ratio of fat, to flour, to vinegar, to sugar.
I think two slices of thick bacon to two regular-sized Yukon gold potatoes is right.
I think 2 teaspoons of flour to 2 tablespoons of bacon fat is right.
I think that ¼ cup of Apple Cider Vinegar to that is right.
I think that a large pinch of sugar to that is right.
I think think that salt and pepper to taste to that is right.
The final product should be a fairly loose, sweet/sour/bacony vinaigrette.
And APPLE CIDER vinegar is key.
And here are the other most important differences...
1. You must cut the potatoes while they are still pretty hot. So please be careful. This is an advantage to using the Yukon gold.
2. Chop the onion and slice the pickles and add to the hot potatoes so they start to wilt.
3. Pour the dressing on while it's hot to further wilt everything.
4. Add the parsley right before you are ready to serve to keep it fresh and vibrant.
5. Serve the salad warm.
If you have leftovers, heat for 30-seconds in the micro, to bring it back to a semi-pretty close-still good side.
BTW: This dressing is also excellent on a wilted spinach salad.
I love to serve this with The Bestest Most Tenderest Ribs Ever, or Rotisserie Chicken. It's also fantastic with Dancing Chicken.
Old Fashion German Potato Salad
- For the Salad
- 2- 3 Yukon gold potatoes large potatoes
- 2 - 3 slices thick applewood smoked bacon
- ½ medium onion or to taste thinly diced
- 1 - 2 large dill pickles; cut into quarters and sliced about ¼ inch thick and I'm talking regular large pickles not those huge deli pickles
- ¼ cup or as desired, chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For the Dressing
- I find the dressing is easier to make in a smaller skillet than what you might use to cook the bacon
- 2 - 3 tablespoons bacon fat
- 2 - 3 teaspoons flour
- ¼ cup or as needed, apple cider vinegar
- Pinch large or small, sugar
- Place the potatoes with their skins on in a pot and cover with cold water. Place on medium-high heat. When it comes to a boil; lower the heat to medium and cook about 15 minutes or until cooked through (stick a toothpick or skewer through them to test for doneness, you don't want them overdone, just tender). Drain and let sit until just cool enough to handle without burning your fingers. Then cut into quarters and slice about ¼ inch thick. Place them into a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- While the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon until just under crisp. You want it cooked but not completely browned. Drain onto paper towels, reserve the fat. When cool, chop into pieces (I like to chop mine first, then cook, seems easier and more uniform)
- Cut the onions and pickles. Add these to the warm/hot potatoes.
- Once the bacon is cooked, keep 2 - 3 tablespoons fat in a small skillet, over medium-low heat add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until it has browned slightly and thickened. (this is like making a roux, except that's generally one part fat to one part flour, we want this looser, so we are doing one part fat to one-third part flour); once the flour is browned and cooked, about 3 - 4 minutes, add the vinegar, stir until thickened. If it becomes too thick, add a bit more vinegar. Now comes the sugar, if you added more vinegar, you might need to add more sugar. So I suggest you take a bit of a taste, if your face puckers, add a large pinch of sugar if it doesn't add a small pinch. Once it's the perfect non-pucker, sweet, sour, bacon tasting goodness it's supposed to be, pour it over your potatoes, onions, pickles. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Now gently stir in the parsley and serve.
Oh, and it's great that your Mom is so active at 90. Happy Birthday to her!
I do like the flavors of German potato salad. I've never put flour in it though but I'll try it!
Oh hells yeah! Though, I still think I prefer our other family recipe with sweet pickles and... cough... no bacon (can't believe I just said that).
Ha Ha. Well, this one is warm, and that one is cold. Sweet pickles. Those were your Dad's pickle choice, he didn't like dill pickles. It's now dill, all the way for me. But you can use sweet, if you prefer, even in this recipe. Try it, you'll like it.