One of the things I love about small town Midwest is that whenever there is a need, whether it be a wedding, funeral, or just a significant event in the community, people come out in the droves with food. Small town America shows love in food, and especially small town North Dakota.
There are certain dishes you’ll always find in the lineup during any community potluck. I’ve shared the recipe for my favorite Potluck Taco Salad and one of the other dishes that is a favorite is the Germans from Russia version of a Hot Potato Salad. Potato salad is said to be of German origin, prepared when boiled potatoes were tossed with oil, vinegar, and seasonings. However, the French, Norwegians, Swedes, Russians, and Italians all have their own versions. It is likely that when potato salad caught on in the late 19th century, it was by way of German immigrants.
Now I always thought German style Hot Potato Salad was made with bacon (and bacon drippings), sugar, vinegar, and mustard, but this popular version is what is the standard up here in German Russian country. As with any recipe handed down through the generations, there will be variances in ingredients. I’ve had this salad with a little mustard or cream in it. But regardless of the version, the basis of any “German potato salad” is the same: vinegar, sugar, some sort of oil or fat, spices, and sliced potatoes.
- 1/3 cup shortening, oil, or lard
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 pounds potatoes, skinned, boiled, and sliced 1/4" thick
- 1 cup water
- 2/3 - 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large heavy bottom pot, melt the shortening. Add the onion and saute until softened and browning. Add the potatoes, water, vinegar, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for an hour, stirring occasionally. The potatoes will begin to soak up the sauce.
- Test for seasonings halfway through. Add any additional salt, sugar, pepper, or vinegar if desired.
- Serve warm and enjoy.