Much of my family originated in Germany, settling in the highly German-populated area of Cincinnati, Ohio, and so many of our family favourite recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation are based on German recipes. This German potato salad is one that I’ve been eating for as long as I can remember.
German potato salad is distinctive from the typical picnic fare in that there is no mayonnaise in it and it is made warm. It can be served either warm or cold though and the vinaigrette is delightful. I learned to make this at my mother’s side and as such, had no recipe for it. A few years ago, however, my daughter was taking a high school course in food and nutrition and she wanted to make this dish for her cooking project. We worked together and came up with a recipe with actual measurements! Enjoy!
Gagen Family German Potato Salad
7 lb potatoes (we prefer red or golden)
8 large eggs
Bacon, 1 lb. (we use thick-sliced but any kind works)
1 medium, or ½ large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 Tbsp flour (optional – you can add this if you’d like a bit of a thicker “sauce” over the potatoes. My mom never added flour to hers)
1 cup vinegar
4 Tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut potatoes; put in large pot, cover with water, and bring to boil. Allow to cook until fork-tender. While potatoes are cooking, hard-boil eggs. Slice bacon into sections about 1 cm wide; cook in frying pan until crispy. When eggs are done, drain hot water and cover with cold water. When bacon is done, remove from pan and place on plate covered with paper towels to drain. Reserve bacon grease. In frying pan used for bacon, sauté onions until tender and translucent. (Optional step: Add flour and stir in to make a smooth paste (roux). If not using the flour, just skip right over this) Stir in vinegar and sugar; cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently until sauce thickens. Drain potatoes. Peel and slice cooled eggs into potatoes; add vinaigrette, bacon, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
If you are looking to cut down on some of the “bad” fats present in this recipe due to the bacon grease, you certainly can make some changes to this recipe. I have tried it before with bacon bits or that precooked bacon you buy (so much leaner and so much less grease) and then since I had no bacon fat to use, I used olive or grapeseed oil and it worked quite well. Is it as rich as with the full bacon/bacon grease experience? Well, honestly, no of course not but it’s very close. I would call it one step down from that and certainly if I was making this very often or as more than a special occasion kind of treat, then I would use this lower fat version for the majority of the time.
Serve warm or cold but I really do find it at its most flavourful when served freshly made and warm. I have been known to warm up leftovers for a few seconds in the microwave the next day with good results too.