Lighter, brighter, and more refreshing than your average American or German potato salad.
Austrian potato salad is a lighter, brighter version of the dish that's simultaneously more refreshing (there's no mayonnaise in it, and relatively little fat overall) and deeper in flavor, thanks to the incorporation of chicken broth and the savoriness it brings.
erdäpfelsalat* to know that I'd gotten the basics right—sliced yellow potatoes, onions, and a splash of chicken broth—but it was still an interpretation based on hearsay.*I love the literal translation of this word:"earth-apple salad."
That was then, and this is now. I recently got back home from a long trip around Europe that included dragging my wife and infant daughter all across Austria, eating all the schnitzel, wurst, and erdäpfelsalat I could find, with the idea that I'd use this"research" to help develop recipes for
Wursthall, a restaurant I'm opening up later this year near my home in San Mateo. Really nailing the potato salad was one of the first things on my agenda.We're all familiar with American and German potato salads, but less so with their Austrian counterpart, a lighter, brighter version of the dish that's simultaneously more refreshing (there's no mayonnaise in it, and relatively little fat overall) and deeper in flavor, thanks to the incorporation of chicken broth and the savoriness it brings. It's flavored with onions, vinegar, and mustard (sometimes with a bit of chopped gherkin) and bound together in a light sauce that gains its creaminess solely from the natural starch found in the potatoes. headtopics.com
Sweet PotatoesThe first hurdle I had to tackle was the potatoes. There are three major commercial varieties: starchy russets; waxy, creamy reds; and Yukon Golds, which bridge the gap in between. The potatoes I tasted in Austria were unvaryingly of the yellow variety, but they tasted fundamentally different from the ones I get back home. While ours tend to have an earthy starchiness to them, the potatoes in Austria were sweeter and creamier.
I tried adding just a touch of sugar to the water in which I boiled them, in the hopes of adding some sweetness, but the flavor ended up cloying and one-dimensional compared to the more complex natural sugars found in the Austrian potatoes.Many recipes call for cooking mid-sized potatoes in boiling water until they're completely tender; this leaves their skins easy to rub off under cool running water. I compared this method side by side with potatoes that I peeled before cooking, as well as potatoes that I peeled and sliced before cooking. There was no question that cooking them with the skins on produced potatoes with more flavor than cooking them peeled. But cooking potatoes whole produced a different problem:
Even when I started them in cold water, it was hard to get them to cook evenly. By the time the very centers were tender, the exteriors were overly soft, disintegrating into the salad. A bit of soft potato thickens up the dressing and gives the salad creaminess, but too much turns it into cold, chunky mashed potatoes.
So how to get the nice, evenly cooked texture of sliced potatoes, but the flavor of potatoes cooked with their skins on? Easy. Just add those skins to the cooking water as the potatoes simmer.I placed my sliced potatoes in a pot, covered them with salted water—it's essential to salt the water when boiling potatoes if you want them to come out flavorful—placed a fine-mesh strainer on top, and set the potato skins in the strainer, with the idea that their flavor would infuse the water like a tea. headtopics.com
It worked out great. You wind up with perfectly cooked potato slices that have all the flavor of potatoes boiled whole. Read more: Serious Eats »
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