By Danielle French

Variation on my mom’s potato salad

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My godmother Rentate lives in Germany and she is a big potato eater. She actually characterises  herself as a big potato eater and I have seen her in person eat a lot of potatoes! Her mother, my Tante Mimi also made the best potato pancakes, crispy and thin and delicious. 

My Tante Renate loves boiled potatoes “in their jackets” which is what she calls them with their skins on. She boils them with a pinch of caraway seeds which she says gives them a little flavour. She peels the skins off while they are hot and serves them with butter (lots) and parsley, maybe a handful of peas if they are in season. One might imagine my godmother is a portly woman but I can assure you, she is not. She is fit and slim and eats what she wants – in moderation. 

Potatoes, parsley and fresh peas. Photo: Jodi Pudge

My mom’s potato specialty is potato salad and since she is German, it’s German potato salad. All summer long (for most of my life really), I have  been trying to reproduce it. I think starting with good potatoes is key but I honestly can not understand why mine tastes so different than hers does. I have recently concluded, that I just acknowledge that mine is different and most likely will always taste different. Could even be the water the potatoes are boiled in. Who knows.

One favourite meal that Tante Renate makes is German hot dogs with potato salad – but she buys the salad! She claims that she can’t make it as well as the local butcher. So really this meal is merely assembled by her, not cooked. What I am saying is that this is a really perfect, quick and easy summer meal if you are a hot dog lover. And who doesn’t love a hot dog – unless you don’t eat meat – am I right?

Shawn possibly fainted with gratitude when I suggested that we have potato salad and German hot dogs for dinner. We are fortunate to have a local German butcher nearby and they indeed have the German hot dogs. It was a warm summer day, we didn’t steam or boil the hot dogs which is traditional for me and the way I like them, we put them on his new smoker. They were delicious and briefly I was transported to Germany, to a pub eating sausages on a plate with a giant dollop of mustard, potato salad on the side and a glass of beer. Prost!


What you need:

Approximately 3 lbs potatoes-yellow, firmed flesh, well scrubbed
2 large dill pickles
1/2 medium red onion
1/4 c olive oil
1 tart apple
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar or pickle juice
1 tablespoon kosher salt, pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh parsley

Begin with 1 1/2 medium size potatoes per person. I like to use the Yukon Gold’s unless you can actually find German Butter Ball potatoes or another flaky variety. 

I leave the skins on this time of year as they are not too hard. Wash them well, cut into quarters and put in a pot with cold water to cover. Gently boil until they are fork tender between 15-20 minutes. Drain.

While still warm, smash (not mash) the potatoes with a fork and add approximately 1/4 cup of olive oil and a hefty tablespoon of kosher salt and several grinds of pepper. Taste and add more if necessary.

Allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, finely chop 1/2 red onion, 1 extra large dill pickle or 2 medium size ones, 1 tart apple, 1 handful parsley.

Add to the cooled potatoes. Add in 1  1/2 tsp sugar, 2 tablespoons of pickle juice or cider vinegar. Fold all the ingredients together and let rest for 1-2 hours to let the flavours develop in the refrigerator. I let the salad come back to room temperature before serving. 

My garden butterball potatoes

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