Hot Potato

German potato salad with a twist

Potatoes were not a “thing” in Germany (or Ireland, Scandinavia, or Spain) where they are closely associated with the cuisine, until 1498 when Spanish explorers brought seedling plants back with them from South America. The Spanish allegedly mistook the potatoes for truffles as they were dug from the ground in the same manner as the prized fungi. First it was discovered that the leaves of the potato plants were poisonous. Then it was determined that they caused lustful thoughts and were the “fruit of the devil.” The tuber’s fate was sealed. It was to be avoided.

Until 200 years ago or thereabouts, a proper German household would never have stocked potatoes in the larder. The lowly spud was only used to feed the poor, prisoners, or livestock.

During the reign of King Frederick the Great in the 1700s Germany was experiencing many cool wet summers which caused wheat crops to fail. Potatoes were needed to feed his people and fuel his army. When few took interest in his suggestion that they plant the crop, in 1754 he issued a royal decree. They were to plant potatoes or else. After Frederick died and there was no heir to the throne, armies from Austria and Prussia showed up to snatch his land. The armies battled and survived on potatoes they pillaged from the German farmers. The irony.

Upon observing German immigrants eating a warm concoction of potatoes bacon, and onions bathed in a sweet/tart dressing they started calling it “Hot German Potato Salad.”

Hot German Potato Salad

Shared by Forrest Jackson, Chef de Cuisine Cochon Butcher 

Serves 8-10 hungry people (Note: This is easy to cut in half)

4 pounds Yukon gold or red potatoes, cut into halves or quarters depending on the size

1/5 pounds of thick-cut bacon, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tablespoons whole grain mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian flatleaf parsley

1. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain (reserve 1 cup water from the bottom of the pot) and let the potatoes sit in the colander and steam off to the side. 

2. Wipe out the pot (I hate creating more dishes than needed). Cook the bacon, stirring so as not to burn it, until almost fully cooked. 

3. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until fragrant and translucent, about 5-6 minutes until soft. Season with salt and pepper. 

4. Add the mustard to the pan, toss and cook 1-2 minutes until the mustard smells toasty. Add the vinegar and sugar and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes until heated through. Taste and correct the seasoning as desired. 

5. Remove the pot from the heat and toss in the potatoes and 3/4 of the parsley, gently mixing until the potatoes are coated and have absorbed most of the dressing. Taste again for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as needed. If more liquid is needed add some of the reserved cooking water. 

6. Transfer the potato salad to a serving dish top with remaining parsley and serve hot or warm. 

  1. I used Uncured Black Forrest Bacon from Trader Joe’s
  2.  If you use Creole mustard, which has horseradish as an ingredient, you will change the flavor profile. If that’s what you want, great. Otherwise, use a coarse German or country-style mustard.

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