Historically, I’ve had something of an aversion to mayonnaise. I first inherited it from my mother, but what began as simple dislike grew into its own beast as I struggled with an eating disorder in my teens. These days, it just seems rather pointless to me. It’s creamy, but without adding any real flavor. Thus, I’m not a big potato salad fan — at least in the American style. German potato salad is much more to my tastes. The bite of vinegar and mustard give way to the soft comfort of a well-cooked potato, making the perfect accompaniment to a rich, juicy burger or a sweet glazed pork chop.
Traditional German potato salad calls for bacon, but we don’t buy bacon very often, so I don’t include it in my recipe. Also, if you’re making a big batch for a picnic, you want a dish that can be enjoyed by everyone. Without bacon, it appeals to the vegetarian, the vegan, the pork-abstinent, the cholesterol-conscious, and the paranoid-about-eggs-or-meat-in-sun crowd. But if you don’t fall into any of those categories and you’re cooking just for yourself, be my guest. Just toss it in, crisped and crumbled, at the very end.
- 7 or 8 medium white potatoes
- 1 small red onion
- 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 Tbsp sugar or honey
- Salt & pepper to taste
Put potatoes, with enough water to cover, in a large pot and set to boil. Once the water reaches boiling, add a generous sprinkling of salt. Cook until fork-tender, but still holding their shape. Drain and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, chop your onion. I like a big rustic chop, personally, but feel free to mince finely if that is more to your taste. Whisk together vinegar, mustard, oil, and sugar or honey until completely incorporated. Add the onions right away, and let marinate while you chop your potatoes. Cube potatoes, toss in dressing, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving, to all for potatoes to soak up dressing and flavors to blend.
I know there’s a group of people (including frequent Chopped judge Scott Conant) who cannot abide raw red onion. In this case, the vinegar starts to work on the onions right away, taking out some of the harshness (especially if you dice them really small), but if you don’t enjoy raw onion, substitute chopped green onion instead, which is traditional in authentic German potato salad.
Not that you needed convincing, but I think I’ve finally rebutted every single complaint about this dish there could possibly be. So no more excuses! Potato salad for everyone!