Potato Salad Recipes
With the wide variety of regional potato salad recipes that exist, it is impossible to label any single recipe as the definitive German potato salad. With that in mind, I have tried to provide the best examples of a number of classic potato salad variations. While many of these recipes do have quite a bit in common, the small changes in ingredients and preparation, can make a world of difference, especially when searching for that perfect nostalgic taste from your past.
Regardless of which recipe you choose to prepare, the correct selection and cooking of the potatoes in critical. Russets and other baking potatoes DO NOT tend to work well for potato salad, as they tend to get brittle and flaky when boiled. You will be much better off selecting mid-sized boiling potatoes, such as round white or round red potatoes. Ask your grocer if you have any doubts, or, go for the potatoes with a smooth glossy skin, whatever the color.
Cooking your potatoes to the right consistency is also very important for the flavor and feel of your salad. An overcooked potato will tend to mash easily and won’t hold its shape when sliced and mixed with wet ingredients, while an undercooked potato will be excessively crunchy and will have a more bitter taste. Because of the variety of potato types and sizes, the best way to perfect your boiling is to test potatoes frequently while boiling. If you should happen to peel and slice your boiled potatoes before discovering that they are undercooked, you can wrap them in a damp kitchen towel and microwave on high at 30-second intervals until they are perfect.
Throughout most of Southern Germany, Austria and much of southern Europe, potato salads tend to have a dairy-free, broth, vinegar and oil base. This basic starting blend is then tweaked regionally with additional ingredients. This recipe is for the basic salad and several of the more common variants, including the addition of bacon, onion, or cucumber.
In Northern Germany, traditional potato salad recipes typically have a creamy consistency. This creaminess is achieved by the use of mayonnaise or, sometimes, yogurt or heavy cream. Of course, as with the non-dairy variety, there is no standard blend of ingredients that makes the perfect potato salad. Every region and city will present its own special version as the best potato salad recipe. Whether you add pickle, apple, hard-boiled egg, or radish; this mayonnaise-based recipe and the optional additions given will allow you to decide for yourself what taste combination is best.
When we talk about hot or warm German potato salad, we are really talking about potato salad that is served fresh after making or at room temperature, as opposed to chilled potato salad, which is prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. Nearly any of the vinegar and oil potato salad varieties can be served warm, but this recipe, with onion and bacon, is my favorite and makes a great warm side for any German meal. Added bonus: it also tastes great chilled the next day, if there are any leftovers.
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