Friday, April 8, 2011
Grandma Dorothy's German Potato Salad
When I got married last October, my wonderful bridesmaids gave me a box of recipes that they had collected from my family members and friends. There are so many gems in there that I haven't tried yet but intend to, like Erika's bruschetta and Diane's chicken kiev, and the other night I thought I'd finally start working my way through it with the recipe that excited me most of all: German potato salad. My aunt had shared with me a recipe that she had inherited from her own mother, who passed away when I was only three years old.
I don't remember my Grandma Dorothy, though when I was a kid I convinced myself that I could, and I've always regretted the fact that I never got to know her. She seems like the kind of grandmother that would have taught me to bake cookies, play poker, and follow my dreams, and who would go to all my band concerts, know which boys I had crushes on, read all the silly stories that I used to write, and pretend they were good. At least, that's how I envisioned her. The idea of making something using the same recipe that she used really excited me, for some reason. It's not like I remember her making it or anything, but it's still neat to have that kind of connection.
And the fact that it's a recipe for German potato salad just makes it that much better. Sometimes my mom would buy canned German potato salad and I absolutely loved it. I would always take a moderate portion at first, but then when everyone was done eating it I would go back and take a huge second portion of it. Something about the texture, that firm-yet-soft feeling that the potatoes have, and something about that tart and flavorful taste just really spoke to me.
Basically, you start off with 6 potatoes. Maybe it's the obsessive-compulsive in me, but I had the hardest time picking which 6 potatoes I wanted to use from the big sack. I knew in my head they should all be about the same size, but I kept making trades and switches because I worried "Ooh, that one's too small, ooh now that one looks too big."
Finally, though, I got my 6 and dropped them in a big pot of boiling water for about 40 minutes, until they were tender when I poked them with a fork. The directions say to peel and slice them at this point, and when they cooled off enough to touch, I tried to peel them with a peeler and failed miserably. It just scraped away too much of the potato itself, so I switched to using a paring knife to peel off the skin. Once that was done, slicing them was simple.
Meanwhile, I cooked up some bacon and crumbled it.
The recipe called for 3 onions, chopped, but that seemed like an awful lot so I stuck with just two. And rather than using my food processor, I chopped and chopped and chopped. This is what it looked like:
Haha that's a little humor for you. It's blurry because the onions made me cry and that's what it looked like to me. Get it? *cough* Okay, moving on.
I sauteed the onion in the bacon fat that was still in the pan until it was translucent and tender.
The directions say to stir in some vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and MSG. Wait, what was that?
Yep, it definitely says MSG. Now, I'm not really sure what MSG is, but I'm pretty sure it's bad, similar to how I knew in 7th grade Social Studies class that communism is bad without having any idea what it is. I think it has something to do with causing cancer, and it's in Asian food? Well, I didn't have any cancer paste in my kitchen so I left that out. I don't think Grandma Dorothy would mind. Everything else, I added just as it was written.
I stirred in the bacon that I had already cooked and chopped up, and this is what I ended up with:
OMG. Divine. Granted, I'm the kind of girl who loves salt and vinegar potato chips, but I couldn't stop eating this. Seriously. I made a chicken dish to go with it, since I can't just eat potatoes for dinner, but I was completely uninterested in it when it shared a plate with these potatoes. Just something about them really is amazing to me. This potato salad has a zing without being tart, it's soft and tender without being mushy, it's just simply a perfect side dish to bring to a summer BBQ or to have alongside some meat dish (just not the chicken that I made - booooring). Something tells me that Grandma Dorothy would approve.
The recipe will be on my Tastebook shortly. I am not one of those people that covets recipes so that everyone will be jealous of that dish that I put together and unable to reproduce it. To me, the best compliment that you can give me after eating at my house is to ask for the recipe and replicate it. I've gotten a lot of positive comments about this blog inspiring people to cook, and that is just so wonderful to hear. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.