Monday, January 21, 2008

Hot Potato Salad

For 10 persons

This recipe comes from Grandmother Up Down's German (Pfalzgraf) side of the family. I remember her serving this on special occasions (Thanksgiving, Christmas) with roast turkey and champagne. I have made this salad, with modifications noted below, almost every Thanksgiving and Christmas we have spent in Lincoln. One Thanksgiving when I made this for our family, Grandmother and another family, Grandmother tasted it and complained that I had must not have used the half cup of bacon fat per her recipe. Everyone else at the table looked aghast.

The secret of this salad is getting the potatoes done enough so that they do not turn black while waiting for the final steps (yes, this happened to me one Christmas; some of the potatoes were not completely cooked, and black streaks appeared in the uncooked part) but not overcooked and “mushy”. Slice the potatoes, about ½” thick, and cook in small batches. Check often and remove from heat and cool with ice water as soon as potato is cooked through. Cooked potatoes will have a consistent color; partially cooked potatoes will have “rings” that are more yellow in color.

Ingredients [these are Grandmother's quantities; see notes on revised quantities in text following ingredients]:

20 medium sized potatoes [russet or Yukon gold].
4-6 slices bacon [I use lean, no-nitrate variety]
1 cup vinegar [I use tarragon vinegar]
3 - 4 medium sized onions, cut fine [I use 1-2 sweet onions]
1/2 pint [heavy/whipping] cream
Olive oil/butter
Fresh parsley, chopped

In Grandmother’s own words [edits] are mine:

“(1) 20 medium sized potatoes Scrub and boil in skins. [I scrub potatoes well and do not peel potatoes after cooking.]  Peel and slice while hot.

(2) Cut 4-6 slices of bacon [Since Chris thinks "bacon is the "best part" - I uses ~8 slices.] in small pieces and fry slowly (but do not brown). [I fry/microwave whole pieces of bacon until crispy, blot off excess fat with paper towel and break into small pieces. Grandmother did not cook the bacon as well done as I do] Add to bacon and bacon fat [I DO NOT use any bacon fat, I add vinegar and bacon directly to potatoes.] to 1 cup vinegar [I use about 3/4 c; start with 1/2 c and taste; amount will vary according to taste and vinegar used]. Add pepper and salt.

(3) In another frying pan, fry 3-4 medium sized onions cut fine. Use extra bacon fat and/or butter [I use olive oil for this].

(4) Pour (2) over (1). Add (3). Mix carefully with wooden spoons so potato slices are not broken.

(5) Add part of ½ pint cream. [I usually make ahead and then add cream sparingly (I use heavy/whipping; Christmas 2011 I used just 1/4 c + 1 T of cream initially; added ~ 1T more to batches I rewarmed in the microwave. Before serving, I sprinkle additional fresh chopped parsley on top.]  Don’t make salad too sloppy. Add parsley chopped. Serve hot or warm.”

Note: Christmas 2012  used 6 pounds of potatoes and 18 ounces of chopped onion, 1 1/4 c of tarragon vinegar, ~ 1/2 c of cream, 12 ounces of bacon and parsley.  Had plenty to serve 9 for dinner and the following lunch plus a bit left over after that.

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