I’ve adopted a very unfortunate weather-related response in the last few weeks. As discussions arise about how unseasonably brisk our Northeast summer has been this season, I can’t help but fire back a slightly snarky, “Oh, summer is totally on its way! It’ll be here next summer for sure.”
Long story short, it’s downright chilly for mid-June in New York — seems to me an occasion befitting of some hearty and delicious classic German potato salad. Also, in full disclosure, I’m not exactly sure that my grandma knew how the Germans of yesteryear made their potato salad. This just happens to be how she always made and subsequently introduced the arrival of her potato salad when I was a kid.
The signature touch of this particular style of the favorite picnic side dish is the vinaigrette it gets tossed in. Mayo is not an overlooked omission here; he’s sitting this game out. It’s also crucial, no matter how you may make your potato salad, to dress it while the potatoes are still hot. Do that and those starchy little sponges will soak up all that delicious flavor with unrivaled conviction.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to resume my search for the real summer of 2013.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
1 1/2 pounds pork sausage, such as kielbasa or sweet Italian
2 pounds baby red and white potatoes, scrubbed
Salt and ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, grated or pasted*
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Preheat a gas grill to medium-high (or ignite a batch of charcoal in a charcoal grill) and lightly grease the grill grate with nonstick cooking spray.
Grill the sausages, turning occasionally, until marked and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Keep warm.
While the sausages are cooking, place the potatoes into a medium pot and cover with cold water. Salt the water liberally and place the pot over high heat. Bring the water up to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and boil the potatoes until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
While the potatoes are boiling, whisk together in a large bowl the olive oil, mustards, shallot, garlic, dill and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
When the potatoes are tender, drain them well in a colander and let them sit for a few minutes until they’re cool enough to handle (they still need to be hot though). Slice the potatoes and add them to the bowl with the dressing. Gently toss the salad to coat the potatoes in the dressing.
Serve the cooked sausages with the potato salad and additional whole grain mustard for dipping.
* COOK’S NOTE: “Pasting” garlic is a great way to incorporate its flavor into a sauce or vinaigrette without ending up with chunks of garlic in each bite. Finely chop the garlic and then gather it into a pile. Sprinkle a hefty bit of salt on the pile and use the side of your knife to scrape the garlic into the cutting board, mashing it into a paste with the help of the coarse salt.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Bobby Deen and Paula Deen, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest tweets on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.