Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hot German Potato Salad with Bacon and Beer Dressing

Happy September!

With Oktoberfest looming right around the corner (September 22- October 7, 2012) I have decided that it is high time for me to post some of my German recipes.

Since yesterday was labor day we grilled some bratwurst (in the rain) and I threw together this delicious, and unorthodox, German potato salad.

Like many comfort foods, German potato salad has legions of purists who claim the only way to make REAL German potato salad is to follow their recipe.  So if you are one of those people, stop reading now.

For the rest of you, here is Mama Ozzy's recipe.  Trust me, growing up in the mid-west I have had more than my share of German potato salads over the years, and they are all good, but always seem a bit anemic.  Boiled peeled potatoes cut into slices tossed into a sweet and sour dressing with bacon.  Delicious, but I have always thought there was loads of room for improvement.

I take several shortcuts which allow this salad to be prepared from beginning to end in about 30 minutes, so this literally can be prepared at the last minute ad served piping hot.  The main shortcut is I don't peel or boil the potatoes.  Sacrilege! I like the taste of potato skins and I hate boiling potatoes because it takes a long time and a lot of the nutrients leach out into the cooking water.  I chop raw red potatoes potatoes into a 1/2 dice and microwave them.  Sacrilege!

I also add beer to my dressing and thicken it with a roux made from bacon drippings and butter.  More sacrilege!  And then I toss in loads of freshly chopped herbs at the end.  The result is a really flavorful salad that has many layers of flavor.

A word about the beer.  I would shy away from an overly "hoppy" beer like IPA, the bitterness will overpower your salad.  I recommend using a lager or mild brown ale.

Hot German Potato Salad with Bacon and Beer Dressing 
Serves 8-12

2 lbs red potatoes, skin on, cut into 1/2 inch dice.
1/2 lb bacon
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbsp finely minced fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 cup beer (preferably a lager or brown ale)
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp dried)
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives (or 1 Tbsp dried)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped.

Place the diced potatoes in a large glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 10 minutes.

While potatoes are cooking, cook bacon over medium high heat in a large, deep skillet until crispy.  Remove bacon and reserve drippings.

Add butter to drippings and add onions.  Cook until onions are tender, stirring occasionally.

While onions are cooking, in a small bowl combine flour, dry mustard, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme.  Add to pan with with onions and cook for one minute to make a thin roux.

Remove pan from heat.  Add beer to pan and whisk until smooth.  Add vinegar and sugar and whisk until smooth.  Add hot potatoes to pan and toss with a spatula to coat with sauce (the heat from the potatoes will continue to cook and thicken the sauce).    Crumble in reserved bacon, remaining herbs and hard-boiled eggs.  Toss.

Serve hot or warm.

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