Sometimes you just need to go on vacation. You don’t care where you’ll go, or what you’ll be doing, you just know you need to get away for a while. Brian and I were in this very position early in our relationship. After a year of dating, we were ready to start planning a getaway beyond the weekend roadtrip, or college friend’s wedding.
We had some loose ideas of places we’d always wanted to travel, but were a bit restricted by vacation time, so we could only travel over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
One Saturday, we were casually browsing a bookstore and stumbled upon Where To Go When (Lonely Planet). This is a fantastic book where you choose a month, and it tells you great places to travel in that time range. There are categories like “family,” “adventure,” and “cultural.”
When we flipped to the month of December, it recommended Vienna for their unabashed love of Christmas, winter wonderland atmosphere, and the kickoff of the ball season. We were sold. The next day we booked tickets, and began taking dance lessons.
Our trip included Christmas Markets, Punsch (mulled wine) from street vendors, castles, the Kaiser Ball, and, dare I say, a little bit of magic.
After our trip we hosted an Austrian themed dinner party, selecting favorite recipes from our travels, as well as a couple that sounded interesting. We hadn’t tried Gekochter Erdäpfelsalat, or Boiled Potato Salad, but it seemed a natural compliment to the rest of the meal highlighting Wienerschnitzel (breaded veal, not chili dogs), and as a bonus surprise to us, it was by far most people’s favorite. Even better? It was surprisingly easy to make, and the ingredients were cheap and readily available. In fact, many homes will have a majority of the ingredients in their cupboards.
This is definitely one of those recipes that you can imagine your grandmother making with whatever scraps she has laying around. Adding this and that, not measuring, tasting as she goes to get the right balance. I, for example, add more bacon, onion and pickles than called for. It kicks up the flavor without harming the integrity of the dish. But if for some reason you were out, you could omit or substitute many items as well. If you need to feed more people, it scales very easily with more potatoes. It can easily be altered to be vegetarian by substituting bacon with just a little oil, and chicken bouillon with vegetable bouillon.
The dish is perfect warm, a very hearty side for a winter meal, and also makes great cold or hot leftovers the next day.
Gekochter Erdäpfelsalat: Austrian Boiled Potato Salad
based on the recipe in Cooking the Austrian Way (Easy Menu Ethnic Cookbooks)
serves 4 to 6
- 3 large Potatoes, washed and peeled
- 3 slices Bacon, chopped (may also be substituted with 1 tbsp Oil for vegetarian option)
- 1/4 cup White Onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsp Flour
- 2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes, dissolved in 1 1/4 cup hot water (use Vegetable Bouillon for vegetarian option)
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Pepper
- 2 tbsp Sour Pickles, chopped
- 1 tbsp Spicy Brown Mustard
- 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- Pinch of Sugar
- 1 tbsp Parsley, chopped
- Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Drain potatoes in a colander and allow to cool.
- Wash and dry pan. In the same pan, sauté bacon and onion until onion is golden brown.
- Add flour and stir until lightly browned.
- Add bouillon, a little at a time, stirring constantly with a wire whisk to make a thick sauce.
- Add remaining ingredients, except parsley and potatoes, and turn heat to low.
- Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch slices and add to sauce.
- Cover pan and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.
- Sprinkle with parsley and serve.