Lots of variations to this summertime favourite
I hope that Aunt Gladys never tasted even one bite of potato salad with onions.
“I like onions, but they don’t like me,” she always said when the potato salad was passed around.
She always had a little bowl of potato salad with no onions, made just for her. If she’d ever tasted it with onions, she would have known what she was missing, and I doubt she’d have been able to bear passing it up, even at the risk of indigestion.
Potato salad makes frequent appearances at summer picnics, salad plates and barbecues. It is tasty and satisfying, it tastes even better when it’s made in advance allowing the flavours to blend, and it’s a good use for last year’s potatoes.
Besides potatoes, chopped onion is the one ingredient essential to good potato salad, regardless of which type it is. And there are many types.
You can make it with chopped potatoes or mashed, peeled potatoes or unpeeled. You can marinate the potatoes in vinegar or dress the salad with mayonnaise or homemade cooked salad dressing. You can add boiled eggs or meat or chopped dill pickle, or sliced radish, or steamed green beans or even leftover peas, if you wish. You can garnish it with a sprinkling of minced chives, paprika or parsley. But you have to add onions.
As for the potatoes, I like them cubed. I think it makes the salad look nicer and makes a more palatable texture than mashed potatoes do. Waxy potatoes, such as yellow-flesh ones or redskinned ones, hold their shape better and are less apt to crumble than starchy ones like russets.
When it comes to add-ins, I think that hard-cooked eggs are a good idea. Besides brightening the colour, they add flavour and some protein.
Perhaps you prefer to add the texture of meat. If so, try Germanor Dutch-style potato salad, such as the one made with today’s recipe. Apparently, it used to be customary to make German potato salad with salt pork rather than bacon, but now bacon is favoured.
That’s probably good as it would reduce the fat content somewhat.
Dressing with a bit of kick suits my taste. A blend of tangy homemade cooked dressing and commercial mayonnaise livens up the flavour of the potatoes while clinging nicely to the potatoes.
I have been enjoying this hot potato salad recently. The salty bacon and sweetened vinegar are perfect complements for mild-flavoured potatoes. Serve it with sausage or pork chops.
My inclination is to not open a container of beef broth for this use, as the dressing is flavourful enough when made with water instead of the broth. If I were to use broth, I’d choose one with reduced salt or no salt, as the bacon provides plenty of salty flavour. I didn’t even miss the 2 mL (½ tsp) each of salt and celery salt that the original recipe called for when I omitted them.
Note that, despite the name, this salad is never really hot by the time I get it to the table. It is more like lukewarm, even with the addition of hot dressing.
Hot German Potato Salad
Adapted from Canadian Home Economics Association: “The Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book.” McClelland and Stewart Limited, Toronto, 1966. 6 medium potatoes 125 g (1/4 lb) side bacon, cut in pieces 25 mL (2 tbsp) bacon fat (reserved from cooking the bacon) 50 mL (1/4 cup) sliced green onions or finely chopped cooking onions 75 mL (1/3 cup) vinegar 75 mL (1/3 cup) beef broth or water 15 mL (1 tbsp) granulated sugar freshly ground pepper Cook potatoes until just tender. Peel and slice while still hot (there should be 1.5 L/6 cups sliced potatoes) and keep warm in serving dish. Cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon, drain and add to the potatoes. In the 25 mL (2 tbsp) bacon fat, gently fry the onions. Add the vinegar, beef broth or water, granulated sugar and pepper. Bring to a boil, pour over the potatoes and bacon, and toss lightly to combine ingredients. Top with chopped parsley and paprika. Serve the salad hot. Makes 6 servings