Summer is under way and so are the picnics and vacations. We all share wonderful memories of our childhood and the summers spent playing baseball, hide and go seek, kickball and dreaming under the clouds.
This time of year I always think of my mother and the summer meals she would prepare. Most meals would include cold dishes if not a cold meal. This was when air conditioning was a luxury and we could not afford that luxury.
She made three bean salad, a dish that included cold beets, a tomato and cucumber salad, she even served baked beans cold. But the dish I most remember her by is her Potato Salad. I can’t remember ever calling it German Potato Salad till I was well in my teens.
I never heard of potato salad with mayonnaise until I was around 8 yrs old. Mom was German and dad was stationed in Germany when I was between 4 – 7 yrs old. So all I ever knew was Germany and German food.
Living stateside and in New Jersey was a different lifestyle and the neighborhood we lived in had a bit of every nationality, so I was able to sample some of the best foods that an inner city neighborhood had to offer. It was my mother who probably introduced German potato salad to the neighborhood.
Later in life I was surprised to learn that German Potato Salad was to be served warm, because mom always served it cold. After trying it both ways I must admit serving it cold tastes better to me.
Here is mom’s recipe for Potato Salad. I hope I have it right because no one in my house likes it so I have not made it years and it is all from memory.
Mutti’s German Potato Salad (Mutti’s Deutscher Kartoffelsalat)
- 3 cups diced peeled potatoes
- 6 slices bacon
- Green onion, diced
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (I think mom used regular vegetable oil)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and set aside to cool.
Place the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Mix with the cooled potatoes the vinegar, oil, diced green onions, salt and pepper and add a little of the bacon grease to taste. (I am sorry I cannot say how much I just add a dash or two from the pan and add more if I need more flavoring)
*Note: This is how I prepare it to serve it cold. If you want to serve it hotAdd onion to the bacon grease, and cook over medium heat until browned. Add the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan. Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and parsley. After adding in the bacon, heat through and transfer to a serving dish.
Crumble in half of the bacon – mix well.
Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, with the parsley and serve chilled. It is good to fix the day before or first thing in the morning and keep cold till ready to serve. The longer the potato salad chills it becomes more flavorful. If making it the night before wait to add the bacon and garnish till ready to serve.
Much to my mother’s horror, I added to it. I have always enjoyed creating colorful dishes that are pleasing to the eye as well as our tummies. Mom came around and did enjoy my version of German Potato salad or as she called “Americanized German Potato Salad”!
I added shredded carrots, diced red radishes and diced pickles. I then decorated the top of the salad with sliced carrots, pickles, quartered deviled eggs and radishes cut up like roses.
Today when I make potato salad I follow these directions and instead of vinegar and oil I mix it with mayonnaise, a dash of dijonnaise, a dash or two of Ranch dressing.