Thursday, November 19, 2009

Authentic German Potato Salad (Bavarian Kartoffel Salat), from My "Mutti"

I have finally made the decision to "sell out" and go against  my brothers, niece and son's desire to keep this recipe a secret-- and share my  Heirloom Recipe for Bavarian Style German Potato Salad! Trust me, this was something my family said I shouldn't do. But, you know--all of you readers of my little ole' blog are my friends. We're "family", don't you think, by now?

I've seen versions of "hot potato salad" that has sugar in it. Maybe that's a regional thing, but my Mutti was from Bavaria.  I'm being sincere, when I say that my Mutti's potato salad is the best I've ever tasted.  Her customers, from her delicatessen, would buy it freshly made-- and it always sold out by lunch time.   Are you ready to make real German potato salad?

DISCLAIMER AND TIPS:
I have always made this recipe from memory, without measuring. This time, I did my best to measure what ingredients I put into this potato salad recipe.  I still have to tell you, that you need to adjust seasonings to fit your needs. There are a few important things I need to tell you, though--
  • Yukon Golds are perfect for this salad. Russet potatoes don't work for this.
  • Unlike other German potatoes salad recipes I've seen, this is never served hot! My mother would faint at that thought!  I think it's best served at room temperature.
  • Plus, this salad is not meant to have a lot of sugar in it.  It is meant to taste savory, with just a slight tartness of vinegar (red wine vinegar works best for me), with a subtle taste of dill-- seriously, just a little dill, because it can be overpowering.  
  • You want the taste of red onion, but again, it shouldn't dominate the flavor.
  • Bacon is essential, but don't go crazy with it. 
  • It's all about "balance" ... well, let me show you!
Begin with the prep of your ingredients:
One small red onion, diced (about 1 cup) and 1/2 pound of bacon, sliced thin (lardons). This bacon was sliced, frozen. It's much easier and it will thaw as it cooks.

Cook the bacon until crispy, drain on a paper towel and reserve about 2 Tablespoons of the bacon fat. Finely chop the bacon and set aside.

Boil five pounds of Yukon Golds and try to choose them even in size. Drain and allow to cool just enough to where...


... I will show you a cool way to peel potatoes, very fast!  Hold a potato in one hand, inside a clean tea towel. With the other hand, grab the end of the towel and rub the peel away-- just like that!

There they are-- naked and cooked. Be careful not to overcook the potatoes to mush, okay?

In a big bowl, I cut the potato in half, then into fairly thin slices-- about 1/4 ".  The potatoes are still warm...that's good!

I add kosher salt (never table salt), fresh cracked pepper and evenly pour the vinegar over the warm potatoes. This will help to absorb all that flavor!

Add your ingredients you've prepped-- onion, bacon an dill...

 Add the bacon fat and a little chicken stock... (I had run out of my homemade chicken stock, but "boxed" is fine)

Now, here's a little secret ingredient my mother added-- about 1/4 cup of Japanese Rice Vinegar. Yep!  You don't have to do this, but I've grown to like her adaptation. Add some oil (olive oil doesn't work well, for some reason....but try it, if you prefer). Start with about 1/2 cup vegetable oil.  I add about 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Now, gently mix-- don't crush the potatoes. Gentle!

You're almost there. The trickiest part is getting the oil and vinegar ratio down. I add a little oil at a time-- no more than 1 cup. I want to see a sheen on the potatoes, but I don't want them swimming in oil and soupy. Make sense? Taste, taste and taste some more! I like just a gentle bite of vinegar, and I add a little salt at a time until it tastes right. I like to make this at least an hour before serving.

My mother made this every single morning, when she owned her Delicatessen in downtown Monterey, California.  Her regular customers would snatch it up, and it would sell out in one hour! For real!

This is how I love to eat this potato salad-- with German Wiener Wurstl. In "American" that would be veal sausages. These are so darn good! This is part of what I served at my annual Oktoberfest Party, but I could eat it any time of the year.

You would honor my mother's memory if you make this salad and serve it at room temperature. It's good cold, but room temperature is best. I am going to have to make Mutti's Pork Roast with au jus gravy that is poured over this. Oh my! It's been too many years since I've made that.

Well, my beloved family-- forgive me for sharing Mutti's secret recipe.  I think the whole world should enjoy this.  It's my mother's signature dish that she passed down to me.  Well,  Austrian Goulash is also our signature dish.  For more of my German recipes, click here:

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From my Heirloom Recipe to you,






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68 comments:

susan said...

Debbie--Thank you so much for sharing the family secret-- I promise I won't open a deli :) I love the idea of the vinegar. I am bookmarking this! I'm glad it is not served hot!

Susan said...

You can't imagine how thrilled I am to read your blog this morning and to find a very favorite dish. We ate this so much when we lived in Germany. For some reason, my mother, even though being German, did not make it. She was born in USA, so something was lost across the ocean! I can't wait...and, hint, hint, the pork roast also sounds wonderful. Thanks.

Kim said...

What a wonderful recipe to share! Can you believe I've never had German Potato Salad? Definitely a must try recipe.

Trish said...

This is great. I am addicted to potato salad..of course, like everyone else, the family secret is kept...grin. I am German too and everyone has their own twists to this wonderful dish...but I like yours very very much!

George Gaston said...

Debby, this looks like a terrific potato salad! Thanks for sharing... I am sure that we all will give tribute to your Mutti when we serve this treasured recipe.

Velva said...

So glad you gave up the secret family recipe! This salad looks really amazing. The fact that you enjoy serving it with German weiners makes it even better.

Recover quickly from your oral surgery. Unlike, regular dentists the oral surgeon can make you quite comfortable. ;-)

Big Dude said...

Looks and sounds great - thanks for sharing. The potatoes I harvested this spring (just happen to have Yukons) are sprouting and I need uses for them and this looks like a winner.

Phoo-D said...

I'm so excited that you shared this special recipe! It looks absolutely delicious. I can't wait to make it at home!

Cheryl said...

Wow, thanks for sharing that recipe, I love Potato Salad!

TKW said...

I gotta say it again....my father would follow you to the end of the earth!! Honestly!

mattie said...

Debby, Mattie here! I'm so untechie that I had to call my husband to help me figure out how to leave a comment. LOL! Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for the recipe. See my MIL is from Germany and makes this all the time. I love it, but had decided that I'd let it be 'her thing'. When I read about your Mutti's recipe I knew I had to have it. I promise I won't open a deli either! BTW, my husband informs me that I'm e-stalking you! Sorry, I really am obsessed with your blog. Actually, I take that back, I'm not apologizing. Come to think of it my husband should be grateful too. He's gotten to enjoy a lot of your wonderful recipes! I'll be making this soon and now that I know how to comment I'll let you know how it goes!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Oh, Mattie! You are just too cute. I don't think you're e-stalking at all. I consider it a compliment!
I have blogs that I read every single day, I comment on and have made their recipes. Many are on my blogroll. The fun part of having a food blog is sharing our love of food. To have someone actually make something you've posted, and then take the time to give feedback...well, that's such a great bonus!

Jen_from_NJ said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this family recipe! I can't wait to make it. Looks so delicious! Room temperature is how I will serve it :)

The Cooking Photographer said...

Oooo German potato salad! I love this dish of your mom's.

And the PW cooking club sounds like fun.

Laura

Frieda said...

P.S. is the amount of rice vinegar a secret, too?

Danielle said...

what a great recipe. the best ones are always the ones handed down from mother to daughter.

Mary said...

What a great recipe. I think she'd be pleased that you've shared it with us. It sounds like a real winner.

Donna-FFW said...

Debbie.. this sounds terrific. How sweet of you to share it, Im sure it will end up treasured by many..I must try it. Moms recipes are always the best!

Monica H said...

I love your family recipes- they're so special and full of memories. Thank you for sharing your prized reviously secret recipe. I hope your family will forgive you :-)

BTW, room temperature is the ONLY way I eat potato salad. It's the best that way, I think.

Patti T. said...

I lived in Germany and learned to make potato salad while I lived there. This is the way I make mine except for the addition of a German spice that I have a hard time finding. There are so many Pa Dutch that live around here and they all insist that "real" German potato salad is hot. I too was taught to serve it at room temperature.

Linda_J said...

Yummers! I was saying to my husband how much I love potatoes in any form and this was one of them! We may have to try your recipe next week along with that cabbage recipe I saw in the sidebar. THX

Wonderful pictorials too.

Anonymous said...

I just finished making this and oh my gosh, it is delicious! I can't stop eating it! This is definitely a keeper and probably hands down the best potato salad I have ever had. Thanks so much for sharing!!

Suzanne aka vivisue said...

I just "found" this and can't wait to try it. I've been looking for a great German Potato Salad and I'm already sure I've found it! Thanks for sharing your "secret". :)

gatesofgrace said...

I was trying to find a comparable recipe that I could do so with my Nana's German Potato Salad, and ohmigosh...I think is almost the exact recipe! My Nana didnt add the rice vinegar and she used a smidge (thats what her recipe says) of mustard. This is neat o!! I am making both to do a side by side taste test with. Cute blog!

Caroline said...

Your mom sounds like mine. I had never seen a German potato salad served warm until my husband took me to a German restaurant. Boy was I shocked. The Spaetzle was from a box and the sauerkraut was served cold. I will definitely be trying several of your recipes. Coming from a half German and half Cajun French background I love trying new foods.

Clark said...

Debbie, I just found your blog and I can't wait to dive into it deeper. You've got a lot of great recipes here!
I am going to make your Mutti's Potato salad to serve on Saturday at a big Oktoberfest party we're giving. I know you said that Mutti made it and served it the same day, but how far in advance could I prepare it and it still be decent? It would really help me out time-wise if I could assemble it tomorrow, Thursday, and having it waiting in the fridge until Saturday evening. Would that be too early?

Thanks!

Clark Chesser
Falls Church, VA

Debby Foodiewife said...

Hi Clark! You could make this a couple of days before, and I suggest bringing it to room temperature. No worries, because there isn't any mayonnaise in this potato salad. I'm not gonna lie, though-- I much prefer it made fresh, the same day. But, that's just my own preference. My family noshes on it a day or two later, but I think it changes a bit. Have fun at your Oktoberfest. I'm having ours in three weeks.

Clark said...

Wow, Debbie. I doubled your recipe and added a bit more bacon, not much, used fresh dill from my garden..otherwise it was Mutti's Kartoffel Salat. This is great! We're having 40+ people over tomorrow night for an Oktoberfest party, and this will be a big hit! Thank you so much!

Delores said...

Am making your potato salad this afternoon for our 11th annual Octoberfest tonight. I know everyone will enjoy it. Even tho we lived in Germany for two years, I don't remember liking it then.
thanks for sharing.
Dee

Anne Karner said...

Just got done making this and it turned out beautifully. To make it a little healthier, I used 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup stock, and turkey bacon. It still has a wonderful flavor profile that I'm confident my co-workers will enjoy. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

Debby Foodiewife said...

Dear Anne,
What a great idea, by increasing the chicken stock. My mom added chicken stock to the salad. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

Andrew Jespersen said...

I can confidently say that this was the best potato salad I've ever made/eaten. I had to restrain myself so there's some left for my Oktoberfest party tonight! Vielen dank!

BeadlesAz said...

Debby - fixed your German Potato Salad today to take to dinner at the home of friends (Monday Night Football get-together). It was a big hit. I've tried several GPS recipes - this one is far and away the best. Thank you for a great recipe!

Melissa said...

Debby, thank you so much! I've been searching for the "right" German Potato Salad recipe like my grandma made. I had a hard time finding anything online that was similar but I found it. Funny, that I also grew up in Monterey, CA and graduated from Monterey High School.

Can't wait to try this recipe!!

Shane said...

Hello first time ever to respond to anything over the internet..I would just like to say I just made this & it is so yummy ..thankyou so much for sharing..its for keeps

Anonymous said...

I love German food - especially German potato salad. I made this on Christmas Day and it was DELICIOUS! I even impressed my German father-in-law. The directions are very easy and clear. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!!

Mindy Nicole Martinez said...

I love your recipe collection.. I am a newlywed of 2 years and a mother.. I went into my marriage with no knowledge of cooking. I often have trouble finding new recipes for dinners. I like yours because there's a lot of new things to choose from but they arnt too complicated for a beginner like me. Also, on a budget, it's easy to resort to unhealthy choices.. I will be testing some of your recipes including this one
love, mindy martinez
http://martinezdiaries.blogspot.com/

Debby Foodiewife said...

Hi Mindy! So glad that you are finding recipes that you think you can do. Best of luck and thanks for visiting!

Denese said...

Hi Debby,

Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I had a recipe for a German potato salad that I got from a cooking teacher in high school....her mother in law was from Germany. She called it Bondoppa ....it sounds so close to the version I made back then. I have lost the recipe and I will try this one!! I'm sure it will be awesome!

Anonymous said...

Hi Debby, How many servings does this recipe make? I would like to make some for my family's Easter dinner on Sunday but I'm wondering how much to make.

Debby Foodiewife said...

I would say this could make 8-10 servings. I hope you like it!

Josette said...

I made your recipe today to serve with my Easter dinner , it's almost gone and I don't have much left for dinner. Thank you so much for sharing. I am confident that this will be my favorite potato salad. I loved it and the different vinegar's in it. I always have both the rice vinegar and red wine vinegar in my pantry.

Debby Foodiewife said...

Dear Josette:
I always appreciate it when someone takes the time to leave a recipe review. My Mutti would be very pleased to know that her recipe is a good one. So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What!!! No mayo or mustard!! This sounds wonderful!!! My Geman grandmother would be proud of me!! My hubby just threw a brisket on the pit & I am making a grocery list before I hit the store. This is replacing MY famous potato salad today!!!

Matthew Crose said...

This is a keeper, for sure!

Pat Goff said...

I am german also. Born and raised in Germany (army brat and proud of it) and moved stateside in 95. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. Sounds a lot like my mothers recipe.

Anonymous said...

I love German potato salad but only te potato salad my German grandmother made....until now! This must have been her recipe too or close to it! I left out the dill and cut the oil to 1/4 C and FABULOUS! This is so yummy and everyone thinks I am gourmet.....when I just started cooking a year ago due to divorce! This is a MUST try and you will be hooked too! THANK YOU for sharing!

April Shafer said...

I just finished making this for an Oktoberfest party that we are hosting tomorrow. I liked that this was served cold or room temp so that I don't have to think about preparing it or heating it on party day! I must say, THIS IS DELICIOUS!!! I guess it's the addition of the rice wine vinegar. Thank you so much for posting this! I know it will be a hit!

Debby Foodiewife said...

Thanks, April! So glad you enjoyed it. Guten apetit!

Alf said...

Thanks, Debbie,
My own mother sadly passed away earlier this year and it was my job to make the traditional Kartoffelsalat for Christmas Eve. This is so close to how she made it that I'm sure the family will love it.

Greetings from Australia.
Alf

Debby Foodiewife said...

Dear Alf,

I do hope this potato salad does the trick, and your family loves it. Thank you for the feedback.

Debby

Pamela Taber said...

Thank you so much I have searched through so many recipes! This one sounds like the best! Making this will pork ribs tomorrow!

Pamela Taber said...

Thank you so much! I will be making this a day ahead of time to make sure it has all those wonderful flavors and having it with pork ribs!

Anonymous said...

So much like my Oma's. Using it for Superbowl Sunday (Go Broncos!).

Mary Marshall said...

Thank you so much for such a GREAT recipe! Reminded us so much of our time in Germany! Amazing, lovely, super-yummy! I posted my results on my page @All Things Food - Cooking with Mary and Friends and tagged you in the post! <3 Mary

barb said...

Hope you don't mind that I pinned this on Pinterest. I have been searching for something authentic and guess what I found it. Reminds us of our time spent in Bavaria. Husband asks for this often!!

Anonymous said...

Great recipe---been searching for the taste from my childhood a long time---most recipes were missing the dill. The only thing I did different was to boil the potatoes with 1/3 of a yellow onion--out of tradition. Thanks so much!!

Shoe said...

This post brought a tear to my eye. My own Mutti passed away 2 years ago. It was very sudden and I never got a chance to write down her favourite recipes which she always prepared from memory. My Papa is coming to stay with me for a few days and I wanted to recreate her kartoffel salat. This will make my Papa very happy. thank you. Any chance you have a semmel knoedel recipe, too??? :-)

Ryan Hennessey said...

Happy Father's Day! My Dad requested German Potato Salad as a part of his Father's Day Supper. I have never made it before but I wanted to to be perfect as he remembered it as a child! This recipe nailed it! Wonderful in every-way, I can't wait for him to taste it!

Pat B said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe. I made it for our Father's Day celebration. Everyone loved it, especially my 89.5 year Dad. I thing I'll cut down on the oil and increase the chicken stock and dill next time. Tell your siblings we are glad you shared the recipe.

Debby Foodiewife said...

Thank you for your review on the potato salad, Ryan and Pat. I always caution to add the oil a little at a time. You don't want a LOT of oil, but just enough to give a shimmer to the potatoes.

Anonymous said...

This is the closest recipe I've seen in a very long time! I am of German heritage and I have a recipe that is generations old too! And you are right, it MUST be red wine vinegar! I never tried the rice or dill, but I think I will try the dill next time! Maybe even today!

Anonymous said...

Funny, my granny was straight off the boat from Munich, and while this is close to what she made (and what we still make), it's still so different. For one thing, she would never, ever, ever put bacon in it. (Just about everything else she made used bacon or bacon grease, though! lol). she always used red potatoes but she did prepare them the same way you do. She also put VERY thinly sliced onion and cucumber in it. The cukes are salted and set aside for a while then squeezed to draw some of the water out. Sounds weird, but it works. And no oil - just chicken broth and white vinegar, salt & pepper. It is always served warm topped with sliced hard boiled eggs and paprika. Might have to make a batch of our version this week, you've given me a craving for it now! :)

Debby Foodiewife said...

Dear Anonymous:

My Mutti arrived straight from the boat of Bad Reichenhall...which is just a yodel away from Munich. :)
I have no idea when she started adding bacon, but we love it that way. On occasion, she would add the cucumber that you describe. But, we kids, refused to eat it. Green veggies, you know. She always added oil, but never too much. I'm sure there are plenty of variations, but this is a salad that my family begs me to make, when we get together.

Barbara said...

OMG, that's so funny, straight off the boat from Bad Reichenhall :). I'm from a little further north, grew up around Nuernberg, and the "real" German potato salad is spot on!

Always thought the (seasoned) rice vinegar like Nakano was my own personal trick. It is actually a tasty shortcut from the original recipe which calls for a bit of white vinegar, a bit of water and a bit of sugar. So if you don't have it, or can't find it, you make your own. With regard to the cucumber slices, they should be very thin and this is usually eaten with the chilled version. There is also a variety that calls for thinly sliced pickles, which goes better with the warm, but not hot version. The trick is to let the potatoes absorb the broth for a little while before adding onions, pepper, vinegar and oil. And as many readers have mentioned, it should not be a lot of oil; just enough to make the potatoes glisten. Olive oil alters the taste but Mazola works well.

This certainly a make-ahead dish, but don't keep it too long in the fridge, as the potatoes will continue to absorb the flavors, until they can no longer be distinguished. And this is the reason why young waxy potatoes are more suitable for this dish. The mealier the potatoes, the more they neutralize the flavor.

Instead of dill or flat parsley, we would often serve this dish with chopped chives. If you don't have any, try chopped spring onions.

Can't wait to make this with fried, steamed or smoked sausages, schnitzel, rotisserie chicken, Fleischkaese, Bavarian Sauerbraten, rouladen or the ubiquitous Bavarian veal roast (bone-in), also known as Kalbshax'n, and a nice helping of Bavarian kraut or red cabbage. Mmmmmmm!

Debby Foodiewife said...

Wow, Barbara. I wish we could have a potluck German dinner. :) Thanks for sharing your recipe versions. It was hard for me to adapt this recipe into written form, because I learned how to make this when I was my Mutti's free labor at her delicatessen. She made it every single day, for several years, and it would sell out every single day.

Barbara said...

Hey thanks, Debbie! I know you do your Mutti proud. That must have been a true labor of love for her.

Just like her, I am "cooking my memories" :)

Anonymous said...

Debby - I am making your Mutti's potato salad for our Oktoberfest. I will give her (and you) the appropriate credit. Come join us on the 27th!!! I hope you are feeling better - you can come over and demonstrate the Chicken Dance with your crutches, and admire Chris' lederhosen :( Nancy