Every potluck needs a potato salad. The common criticism of potato salad, of course, is that it spoils easily, thanks to the mayonnaise. The solution? Make a different potato salad! German potato salad is meant to be served warm. Leaving it out in the sun all afternoon is doing it a favor.
There was a German deli near me when I was growing up, and occasionally we’d get potato salad. The combination of creamy potatoes, crunchy celery and flavor-bursts of bacon was always a treat. I hadn’t tried making German potato salad until now, but my first bite brought back a rush of memories.
This really is the best potato salad ever – I swear I’m not speaking in hyperbole! The salad is light, and the sweet and sour dressing tingles on your tongue.
The foundation recipe I used was published in House & Garden in 1957. There are almost 100 comments on the Epicurious post giving feedback on the salad. I read through each one, aiming to publish the best possible version of this classic dish.
- 3 pounds red potatoes
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon
- 1 cup chopped celery (3-4 large stalks)
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 medium red onion, diced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
Step 1. Bring a large pot filled half-full with water to a boil. Rinse the potatoes. To speed up the cooking process I diced the potatoes into eighths (bite-size pieces) before cooking them. This reduced the cooking time considerably, to under 15 minutes. The potatoes are done when they are fork-tender but not mushy or mealy. You want the potatoes to be a little firm. Drain and set aside.
Step 2. While the potatoes are cooking, prep and cook the bacon. Slice the bacon into thin 1/4-inch strips. Cook on medium heat until the bacon is uniformly brown and crispy. We want crispy bacon because it will naturally soften some when it’s mixed with the dressing. Remove the bacon, drain on paper towels and set aside.
Step 3. Transfer 4-5 spoonfuls (about 3 tablespoons worth) of bacon fat into a medium frying pan – this is where we’re going to make the sauce. turn the heat on medium. Whisk in the flour. Once the flour has cooked for 1 minute, add the onion and integrate it into the roux. Stir frequently and cook until the onions have browned.
Step 4. Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add this mixture to the onions and cook until it has thickened and reduced. Add the mustard powder and pepper. Don’t reduce the sauce too much – this is your dressing.
This potato salad can be served immediately or made in advance and refrigerated. Before serving, return the salad to room temperature.