The crisp days and golden leaves enhance all of the senses, especially our appetites. In the summer, we can be happy with salads and sorbets, but in the autumn, we long for heartier food to warm us from the inside outward. Potato soup, sausages, hot salads, dumplings and beer – the food and drink of a September Oktoberfest party – is just what the stomach ordered.
Historians say that Oktoberfest originated in 1810 as a wedding feast over in Bavaria. I would rather think it was a celebration of the arrival of hearty eating season. By the way, despite the name, Oktoberfest is held during the last two weeks of September!
In Germany and many parts of the world Oktoberfest has become a large festival with plenty of food, beer, music and merrymaking. Huge tents set upon the Theresienwiese meadow in Munich are the setting for the festivities. The event begins with the mayor ceremoniously tapping the Oktoberfest keg of beer. In Wilmington, the Saengerbund hosts an Oktoberfest every September. There menu consist of German specialties such as grilled Bratwurst (pork sausage), Weisswurst (veal sausage), Frankfurters, pretzels and “Rollmops“, a marinated herring served with rye bread. Potato salad and sauerkraut are made in the Delaware Saengerbund kitchen by the Ladies organization. A variety of Torten and traditional plum cake are the tempting sweet fare.
Creating an Oktoberfest at home is easy! Your menu should include, among other items, beer, German sausages, hot German potato salad, sauerkraut, sweet and sour cabbage, German-style chicken and black forest cake. German potato salad is an annual favorite at the Saengerbund’s Oktoberfest!
Potato Salad from Swabia – Schwäbische Kartoffelsalat
A Southern German recipe for potato salad, which uses broth, vinegar, onions and mustard for flavoring and is often served lukewarm. Tastes even better the next day, but do not forget to refrigerate.
4 medium potatoes (about 2 lb.), scrubbed
1 c. broth (beef, vegetable or chicken)
3 T. cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
2 T. cooking oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 T. prepared mustard
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Chives for garnish (optional)
Place whole potatoes in a pan, add cold water to almost cover, bring to a boil and cook until done, about 20-30 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and peel while they are still warm. Use a mandolin to slice thinly or slice with a knife 1/8 inch thick. Place in a bowl. Pour the broth over the warm potatoes and mix gently. Let sit 5 minutes.
In a second bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, sugar, mustard, finely chopped onion and pepper to make a vinaigrette. Pour over the potatoes and mix gently. Potatoes will crumble a bit, but that is expected.
Allow the potatoes to marinate for 20 minutes before serving. Serve lukewarm or room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.
Waxy potatoes hold their shape better, but starchy potatoes soak up more broth and flavor. I make the salad using Yukon Gold potatoes, which is in-between waxy and starchy.
The potatoes will fall apart a little when you stir and this is OK. The starch will help thicken the vinaigrette. To keep the potatoes intact, stir only briefly and watch the cooking time. Remove the potatoes the moment they are done (you can pierce them easily to the core, but there is slight resistance). If they are splitting or crumbling already when you drain them, you may want to use them for mashed potatoes instead.
Chives are traditional for this salad, but they can be hard to come by in the winter.