Dad’s German Potato Salad
My Dad is an awesome cook. This recipe is bacon based, sweet and sour, and very savory. It’s the perfect thing to make on a chilly afternoon.
He took me step by step through this recipe the other day on the phone. My German Grandma taught him, and he passed it on to me. My Dad is pretty funny. Here’s a paraphrased version of his instructions. I’ll use his parlance since these are his instructions.
“OK, You get a pound of potatoes, the red ones. The white ones, the bakers, are too starchy and they’ll fall apart. You need the waxy ones. Put them in a pot and boil ‘em, then turn the heat down so they simmer. The trick here is to cook ‘em for five, ten minutes at a simmer, then turn the pot off and walk away. Just leave it and let them sit in there.
Now you take a 1/4 lb of bacon, cut it into dice, chop it. Cook it till it’s nice and crisp, then take it outa there with a slotted spoon. No paper towels. Just put it in a pie pan and save it for later.
OK, Now if you have a lot of bacon drippings, pour off some so you end up with about 3 tblsp. Look at the bacon fat in the pan, and guess about how much you have, you don’t need to measure, just tilt the pan and look at it. If there’s about 3 tblsp of bacon drippin’s in there, then that’s how much flour you add, equal bacon fat to flour. Add the flour and whisk it, let it cook, like a roux. Once the flour taste is cooked away, you throw in 2 cups of water and whisk it like crazy. You don’t want any lumps. Now ya let it thicken and it’ll thicken right up. And you should be using your cast iron skillet for this, the big one. What size cast iron pan do you have out there?
Now cut round slices of onions, about 1/8th to 1/4 inch thick, you want to use sweet onions, like a Vidalia or Hawaii. Add those to the gravy. Now get your celery, slice it the same thickness, from the ends, and keep the leaves, they add flavor. Now add some salt, 1/3 of a tsp, not too much cause you’ve got the salt in the bacon. But you need some salt or you’ll never taste the sugar once you add it, and it’ll drive you crazy trying to figure out what you’re doing wrong. Just add salt. Did I tell you to salt the water for the potatoes? ‘Cause that’s important. You gotta make sure to put salt in with the potatoes.
Cook the onion and celery in the gravy for five, ten minutes. Let it bubble up. Now, get the sugar bowl and add 1/3 cup sugar and stir it till it’s bubbly. Now taste it. It should be so sweet that it makes you sick, you should say ‘Oh, yuck…’ That’s what you want. Now, like with the fat and flour, you want to add the same amount of vinegar as the sugar you used. !/3 cup sugar, same vinegar. It doesn’t matter if you use white or cider vinegar. Just regular old vinegar is fine. Stir it and let it bubble again, and taste it. You should have the perfect balance of sweet /sour. Now add back the potatoes, salt and pepper, chopped parsley, and the crumbled bacon on top. And then that’s it, you don’t need to mess with it anymore”
So there you have it. Don’t you sorta feel like you just got off the phone with my Dad?