Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pennsylvania Dutch German Hot Potato Salad

Plate of potato salad
Hot And Hearty Fare

Recipe adapted from Midwest Gardeners Cookbook

Back in the day, my longtime deceased aunties were cooks at a Pennsylvania convent. They liked making tasty foods on a budget. When the Mother Superior (nun in charge) declared that God had sent them, one quickly replied, “He didn’t have to work very hard to get us here.” Luckily, that Mother Superior could appreciate my aunt’s sense of humor, and good food. A favorite in the convent, and at home, was "German Potato Salad," made with vinegar and bacon and served hot.

Mixing bowl filled with salad ingredients
Easy Prep: Mix it all Together
When I asked my German chef friend Claudia about this, she assured me that in Germany potato salad contains pickles  but never vinegar. I set the idea of recreating my aunties’ salad aside, until encountering a recipe in the Midwest Gardeners Cookbook. Since the Pennsylvania Dutch (a mis-translation of Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch) are descendants of Germans who immigrated to the US in the 1700s, my aunties probably got their recipe from German-speaking neighbors, so dubbed it German Potato Salad. Mystery solved!

Different potatoes produce different results in terms of amount of liquid needed. At the end of the recipe, when you mix everything together, you might have a bit extra liquid. If it doesn’t absorb in a few minutes, use a slotted spoon to dish it into a serving dish. Or just serve it with a slotted spoon to drain off the excess.

Closeup of salad shows bacon
Bacon Alert!
The amount of bacon seemed a bit skimpy when I first tried this recipe, so I’ve doubled it. I’ve also concocted a vegan variety with Smart Bacon (see vegan option at end of recipe).  If you take the vegan version to a potluck, add a mini-sign on a toothpick that says “vegan.” You might still have to answer the question, as I did, “How could this be vegan when there’s bacon in it?” It’s that good…though the original with real bacon generally disappears faster.

Cooked Potatoes in Foreground, Other ingredients in back
It's (Mostly) All About Potatoes
Pennsylvania Dutch Style Hot Potato Salad
serves about 6

2½ lbs. potatoes
½ lb. bacon
~¾ cup chopped onion
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup beef broth or bouillon
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1/3 cup packed, snipped parsley

Scrub potatoes and remove any eye sprouts and dark spots. Boil potatoes until just tender, about 15 – 20 minutes. Drain and keep warm.

While potatoes are cooking, cut bacon strips in half and place in cold skillet. Turn heat to medium and fry bacon until medium crisp on both sides. Drain on paper towels and pat off excess fat.

Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from skillet. Fry onions until golden.

Meanwhile stir together cider vinegar and beef broth. Add salt and pepper.

Preheat a ceramic mixing/serving bowl in the microwave 1 – 2 minutes until very warm. Cut potatoes into chunks and add to bowl. Add bacon, onions, parsley, and vinegar mixture. Toss and stir together. Serve immediately, microwave for a minute or two, cover, and bring to potluck.

Vegan option:

Substitute an 8 – 12 oz. package of soy-based imitation bacon for regular bacon. Brush or spray both sides of “bacon” heavily with olive oil or olive oil cooking spray and fry until firm.  Remove “bacon” from pan. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to the pan to cook onions. Substitute vegan broth for beef broth.

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