I am no culinary master. I am still learning about food and cooking, and that's exactly why the Culinary Smackdown events are so fun to participate in. It's been a very long time since I have joined in--mostly because I let my life get in the way of actually posting my entries--but this time I'm feeling pretty good about my chances.
The theme for this month's competition is Battle: Oktoberfest! Cincinnati and Dayton have their Oktoberfest festivals during the month of September (side note: isn't that weird?) and everyone has beer, sauerkraut, and schnitzel on their minds. I remembered my dad, the man who contributed to my German lineage, talking about warm potato salad, so I called home to ask for their favorite recipe.
My mom sent me on a scavenger hunt to Food Network's website looking for a specific recipe by Bobby Flay, saying that she had recently taken it over to her neighbors house, who is a German immigrant, and it was a big hit. After a bit of ingredient comparing, I found the right recipe and had all of the ingredients on hand.
Big boxes of dirty potatoes have started showing up at the farmer's market. I bought these red potatoes from a man with a kind smile and long beard, and brought them home to give them a good scrub. The rest of the recipe came together pretty easily; as the potatoes boiled, I cooked the bacon, then the onions and celery, and finally started on the warm dressing. The mystery ingredient--flour--was intended as a sauce thickener, but I don't think it's effect was evident until the potato salad was assembled and then allowed to cool slightly.
In hindsight, while this recipe was extremely good, especially if you like the idea of the strong vinegar to be tampered down a bit with a little sugar, I think it would be even better if made a day in advance and then warmed the following day. I ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning and my-oh-my! That's a darn good potato salad.
Side note: Don't you think my potato salad would go perfectly with Cindie's entry?
Warm German Potato Salad
recipe from Food Network
serves about 4
At one point in the recipe, you are supposed to drain off the bacon grease, reserving just 1 tablespoon. But I'd recommend not throwing the bacon grease away! Save it! It will give excellent flavor to dishes in the future like mushroom risotto without you having to actually add bacon.
1 - 1.5 lbs red potatoes
5-6 slices bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp chopped chives (optional garnish)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish)
In a large pot, boil the potatoes whole in salted water until you can easily pierce with a fork. When done, drain off the water and cut into approximately 1 inch cubes. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
While the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon over medium heat in a large skillet until almost crisp. Remove from skillet and set on paper towels. When slightly cooled, crumble the bacon into small pieces. Add the onions and celery to the skillet and cook in the bacon grease until slightly soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Remove the onions and celery with a slotted spoon and set aside in a small bowl.
Pour off the bacon grease, reserving 1 tbsp of bacon grease in the skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the flour, sugar, salt & pepper and whisk into the grease until there are no lumps. Allow to cook for about 30 seconds, then add the water and vinegar. Allow to cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture reduces slightly.
Add the onions, celery, and potatoes back into the skillet and warm through, tossing the potatoes in the dressing to coat, about 2 minutes. Transfer the dressed potatoes to the large bowl (previously used for the potatoes). Sprinkle the bacon, chives, and parsley over the potatoes and carefully mix to combine. Test for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if needed.
To see all entries for the Culinary Smackdown this month, go check out last month's winner, Stephie of Small Girl Adventures. She is the host and judge of Battle Oktoberfest and all entries will be linked to her host page.