You are what you eat: German(-style) Potato Salad

12 Nov

German Potato Salad

My last name begins with Rein-.  I’m pretty damn German.  Like many American families, however, mine never really embraced its heritage.  Growing up in Wisconsin, things like bratwurst and beer are second nature, but German food in general remains a specialty found at the occasional beer garden or ethnic festival.  It’s something that I want to explore in more detail in the future

I was lucky enough to happen upon a wealth of red and Yukon gold potatoes among other various root vegetables and greens in the form of a CSA box that was left at work (we serve as a pick-up location for an area farm and we get to take home anything that isn’t claimed that day).  After a long day, a hearty serving of potato salad sounded comforting and imminently filling.  I’ve never been a fan of the “old-fashioned” potato salad often found around the upper Midwest that’s doused in mayonnaise and hard-boiled egg so I knew I wanted to do something vinegary and herbaceous.  Some rooting around recipes steered me toward a German-style potato salad with a velvety sauce that is most often served warm.  I was inspired by a recipe in my Dean and Deluca Cookbook that uses a sauce of white vinegar thickened with corn starch for texture.  My MacGyver instincts took over from there.

Dish: German-style Potato Salad

Ingredient Rollcall:

  • red potatoes (small to medium, I used about 8 or 9)
  • vinegar (I used about half a cup, a mix of white and apple cider vinegars)
  • ~1 tbsp sugar
  • ~2 tsp cornstarch, mixed in ~1/4 cup of warm water to make a slurry
  • capers (a couple tablespoons)
  • minced garlic (couple of cloves)
  • bacon drippings (couple tbsp)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • herbes de Provence
  • fresh parsley
  • splash of olive oil

How I do it:

  1. In a large stockpot, boil potatoes in salted water for 12-15 minutes, depending on size, until no longer crispy, but before completely soft.
  2. Drain and let potatoes cool until you can handle them enough to cut into 1/4 inch slices.  I peeled the potatoes, but feel free to leave the skin on.
  3. Toss potatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. In saucepan or skillet, saute garlic in bacon drippings (I would have added diced onion and actual bacon if I had either on hand.  Didn’t feel up to a trip to the store at 12:30am though).
  5. Add vinegar, cornstarch slurry, sugar, herbs and capers and saute until thickened, 5-1o minutes.
  6. Add thickened sauce, along with beaten egg and fresh parsley to potatoes and stir until thick and well-coated.  Reheat if potatoes are no longer warm so egg will thicken.

The sauce should zingy from the vinegar and capers and velvety-smooth as pictured.  This paired well with New Glarus’ Unplugged Old English Porter, itself a soured beer with an acidic kick.  Those with acid refux issues need not apply.  Being German may not be for you.  We love the acid.

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