Sunday, June 20, 2010

German Potato Salad and Carrot-Dill Salad

Just like the French World Cup team, Germany lost their match on Friday, but our food was a winner. We had big plans for our German-themed meal: warm potato salad with bacon-vinegar dressing and marinated carrot-dill salad served with grilled chicken.

To make it interesting, nature conspired against us with a big storm that blew through Chicago around 4:30 on Friday evening. Our power went out, but we still managed to do this meal AND I think it turned out even better due to the lack of electricity. At first, I was a bit put out because I couldn't use my food processor to shred carrots. I almost scrapped the dish, but then decided to try slicing the carrots as thinly as possible with a mandoline.

It worked out great, and I think it's an even prettier presentation than shredding. Mike got a nice arm workout getting 2 lbs. of carrots sliced ultra-thin, but it was worth it. Now that I think about it, Mike also made a marinade and grilled the chicken. It may not seem like I did all that much, but remember that somebody needs to be the mastermind:)

Once you deal with the carrots, using whatever method you choose, the salad is as simple as stirring a few ingredients together and letting them marinate for about half an hour. The potatoes are easy too, considering the very flavorful results. This style of salad is my favorite because I love the tangy vinegar dressing. Even with a bit of bacon in the mix, it's healthier and much tastier than the typical one-note mayo-based versions.

On Saturday night, we took Japan as our inspiration and went out for sushi. They also lost their World Cup match. It made us wonder if a pattern was developing. Fortunately, Sunday's country of food inspiration, Brazil, had success on the pitch. I'll tell you about our Brazilian dish, Mocqueca Baiana, in my next post!

German Potato Salad
Adapted from

I started buying uncured/"natural" bacon to avoid nitrates and nitrites (chemical preservatives used in processed meats, which are linked to heart disease and diabetes risk), but was skeptical that I'd like it as much as regular bacon. Happily, we found it meatier and more flavorful, despite being lower in sodium. It was delicious in this dish, and I'd definitely recommend trying it.

Serves 4

4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 1/2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 tsp. whole grain mustard
1 1/2 tsp sugar
4-5 scallions, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

Fill a stock pot with about 1 inch of water and add the garlic. Insert metal steamer basket in pot and add potatoes. Bring water to a boil, cover and simmer over medium-low heat until potatoes are fork tender, 12 to 17 minutes. Take care not to overcook potatoes so they don't become mushy. When done, remove lid and set aside.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet on medium heat. Transfer to a paper towel-line plate, reserving bacon fat in the skillet. Blot bacon with more paper towel. Add onion to skillet and cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add vinegar, water, mustard and sugar; whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by one third, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add potatoes and scallions and stir gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let potatoes absorb liquid for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the bacon and dill. Serve warm.

Carrot-Dill Salad
Adapted from

Serves 4-6

2 lb carrots, peeled
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 Tbs honey
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped

With a mandoline, slice the carrots as thinly as possible while still keeping the pieces intact. Alternatively, shred them in a food processor or grate by hand. In a large bowl, whisk together the juice, vinegar, honey and olive oil. Stir in the carrots and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the dill and rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. May be made several hours ahead; cover and rest in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.

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