Last week I discovered too many potatoes stacking up in my kitchen. What to do with extra spuds? Then it came to me! I thought of a dish I enjoyed when I was a kid growing up in DC: Germany Deli Potato Salad. My favorite variety came from Kresge’s dime store on F Street NW. Each week after my piano lesson, I’d drop by Kresge’s basement, where they sold sheet music and 45-rpm records. Having made my musical purchases, I’d pause to view the cages of exotic birds or listen to an energetic salesman demonstrate a new piece of kitchen gadgetry.
Before heading home, I’d often stopped at the deli counter. For 20 cents, I got a carry-out order of potato salad in a small, white carton with a wire handle. Sometimes I got home with my purchase intact, but others times I’d nibble on it while I was riding the streetcar. Years later when I tried to duplicate the salad that I remembered so fondly, I didn’t get anywhere close. So I gave up, that is, until last week when I took up my quest again.
I began by thumbing through some vintage cookbooks. You know, the ones held together with a plastic, spiral binder or mimeographed and stapled at the centerfold. When you’re looking for an oldie but goodie, there are lots of treasures hidden in those cookbooks assembled years ago by church and civic groups. Well, I ran on to one that the writer said had been given to her by the owner of a German deli in New York. Bingo! The recipe looked promising and I needed to get on with cooking something; my potatoes were about to grow roots.
The dish turned out terrific! It had a sweet, vinegary base and instructions for adding a bit of mayonnaise, if you wanted to make it Bavarian style. The salad was so good, that I forgot all about trying to match my food memory of more than a half century ago. This recipe suited me just fine. Besides, my more “mature” taste buds would unlikely find the old, dime store salad as good as I once thought it was.
German Deli Potato Salad
- 4 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
- 8 slices bacon
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 3 Tbs. parsley, finely chopped
- In a large pot of boiling water, cook potatoes 10-15 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain, place in a large bowl and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp, turning as needed, Remove from pan, crumble, and set aside.
- Add oil and onion to bacon grease and cook about 5 minutes, or until onion is soft. Stir in vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Gently stir in potatoes and parsley.
- Add half of bacon to potato mixture and heat until warmed through. Remove to serving dish. Sprinkle remaining bacon over top and serve warm. Serves 8.
- Note: If wanting to serve the salad Bavarian style, add 2 Tablespoons of real mayo to final mixture.