Warm and Smoky Potato Salad

war and smoky potato salad

I love potato salad in all its infinite variations. But I'm highlighting this particular recipe because the bacon is a great lure for skeptical children, and most kids can be persuaded to harbor a serving on their plates if only to pick off and eat the bacon -- which is, at least, a start. Also, because the onions are briefly sautéed and marinated, the kids won't have to fear any inadvertent chomping into the spicy crunch of raw onions.

If you are not a bacon eater, go ahead and make this, but substitute olive oil for the bacon fat, and add a teaspoon of smoked paprika or chipotles. It will still be delicious.

The measurements are somewhat approximate here, which means that it is as important as ever to taste the salad -- as you're making it and before you serve it -- to make sure that it is adequately salted and seasoned.


    2-3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, washed, then halved and/or quartered (halve the smaller ones and quarter the larger ones; you can leave the wee babies whole)
    kosher Salt
    1/3-1/2 pound sliced bacon
    1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
    1/2 cup cider vinegar
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    1/4 cup (or so) chopped parsley
    a few snips of chives, if you've got them


  1. In a medium pot, cover the potatoes with a few inches of cold water, then salt the water heavily (when the salt dissolves, the water should taste salty) and bring it to a boil, covered, over high heat. Turn the heat down and simmer the potatoes until tender, around 15-20 minutes. Make sure the potatoes are not undercooked.
  2. Meanwhile, in a very wide skillet, fry the bacon over medium heat, turning as required, until it is crisp. Drain it on paper towels and evaluate the fat left behind: you want about a third of a cup; if you've got less, add a bloop or two of olive oil; if you've got more, pour a little off.
  3. Add the onions to the fat and stir over medium heat until they are just barely wilted, 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. Now add the vinegar, sugar, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to the pan and boil two minutes. Whisk in the mustard, and leave the onions to pickle briefly while you dice the potatoes.
  5. Dice the potatoes.
  6. In a large bowl, use a rubber spatula to combine the warm potatoes with the warm dressing/onion mixture, then taste for seasoning. Does it need more salt? More vinegar? The potatoes will absorb the dressing as they sit, so be sure to taste it again right before serving and re-adjust as needed.
  7. If you're not serving it right away, cover the potato salad with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature. Only refrigerate it if you really must, as the cold will give the potatoes a weirdly leaden and mealy texture. Which is not to say that leftovers aren't good in their way. Just that it's better freshly made.
  8. At serving time, sprinkle the salad with the parsley and chives, then crumble the bacon over the top.

Read more about Catherine making Warm and Smoky Potato Salad with her family.

See all recipes from Catherine Newman's "Dalai Mama Dishes" blog.

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