Saturday, February 12, 2011

Austrian Potato Salad

Back in Germany, I used to buy my potatoes every week at the Farmers Market. There are dozens of varieties and there was one special farmer who loved his potatoes so much - I swear he loved them as if they were real people. Whenever I told him what I wanted to make that day he would pick the right kind of potato for that dish and it always turned out beautifully.
When I tried to make potato salad here in the US, it never turned out as good as it did at home. Sometimes the salad was too mushy or sometimes the potatoes were too hard. My husband told me that I was unable to make a decent potato salad so I told him that it wasn't mine but actually the potato's fault, he just gave me a funny look.

However, I recently found this recipe from Cooks Illustrated. The potatoes are cooked not only in water, but also in a little vinegar. This alters the cooking process by expanding the window of time during which the spuds go from properly cooked to mushy and broken. Finally! Thank you Cooks Illustrated, you saved my marriage.

Austrian Potato Salad 
(From Cook's Illustrated)
serves 4
The finished salad should be creamy and loose, with chunks of potato that keep their shape but are very tender. If you can’t find cornichons, chopped kosher dill pickles can be used in their place. To maintain its consistency, don’t refrigerate the salad; it should be served within 4 hours of preparation.


2pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1cup low-sodium chicken broth
1cup water
Table salt
1tablespoon sugar
2tablespoons white wine vinegar
1tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4cup vegetable oil
1small red onion , chopped fine (about 3/4 cup)
6cornichons , minced (about 2 tablespoons) (see note)
2tablespoons minced fresh chives
Ground black pepper


  1. 1. Bring potatoes, broth, water, 1 teaspoon salt, sugar, and 1 tablespoon vinegar to boil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until potatoes offer no resistance when pierced with paring knife, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove cover, increase heat to high (so cooking liquid will reduce), and cook 2 minutes.
  2. 2. Drain potatoes in colander set over large bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Set drained potatoes aside. Pour off and discard all but ½ cup cooking liquid (if ½ cup liquid does not remain, add water to make ½ cup). Whisk remaining tablespoon vinegar, mustard, and oil into cooking liquid.
  3. 3. Add ½ cup cooked potatoes to bowl with cooking liquid mixture and mash with potato masher or fork until thick sauce forms (mixture will be slightly chunky). Add remaining potatoes, onion, cornichons, and chives, folding gently with rubber spatula to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. Eva - sincere thanks for posting this recipe. Over summer here (I;m in New Zealand) I've been experimenting with this type of potato salad. Your recipe is first one I've come across that cooks the potatoes in the broth and vinegar rather than adding these ingredients after boiling the potatoes. I'm really looking forward to making this and munching on the results.

    Sending you super thanks and cosy warm huggles from the downunder summer, Michelle in Wellington, NZ

  2. Thank you for your nice comment, Michelle, I'm always glad when people like what I am doing.

  3. Bless your heart! Thanks for posting this. I just read "Cook's Illustrated"'s recipe for home fries, which featured potatoes boiled in water with baking soda. They mentioned, as an aside, that they had been working on a recipe for potato salad, and boiled the potatoes in water and vinegar. I'm working on a potato salad recipe that is very different from this one -- for example, I soak the boiled potato cubes overnight in Italian dressing -- so all I wanted to know was how much vinegar to use. And here it is!

    But since I lived for a year in Germany as an exchange student, and learned to love the food, I will also try this recipe as they developed it!