Last week I was in Vienna for the first time, on a business trip for a day. We went to a rather tacky restaurant that played Austrian waltz music but served decent food. I decided to order the most Austrian thing I could find on the menu: Wienerschnitzel mit Erdäpfelsalat. Erdäpfelsalat is the Austrian word for what is more widely known as Kartoffelsalat. I was expecting potatoes in mayonnaise, but it turned out that in Austria (and also in southern Germany, it appears), potato salad is not made with mayonnaise but with oil, vinegar and beef stock. It was absolutely delicious and I immediately decided to replicate this at home. The next day we got a very similar potato salad (as well as mini Wiener schnitzels) for lunch during a business meeting, so I figured that this is truly the local style of making potato salad.
Back home I googled and compared a few recipes in German (and some even in Weanarisch, the dialect from Vienna that I could only understand by reading it out loud) and managed to replicate the Wiener Erdäpfelsalat that I tasted in Vienna very closely. The warm potatoes are mixed with warm beef stock and a dressing, and allowed to marinate for half an hour. They are then served while still lukewarm. The starch from the potatoes thickens the sauce and though it is hard to recognize there is beef stock in there, it provides great depth of flavor. Besides beef stock another unusual ingredient is sugar. It is optional according to the recipes I found, but both versions I tried in Vienna included sugar.
This is definitely something I will make again, and if you have never tried this I urge you to give it a try as it is so much better than a mayonnaise-based potato salad. Who would have thought that I would make a culinary discovery in Vienna? I certainly didn’t!
For this recipe small waxy potatoes are recommend. Waxy so they will stay whole when cooked rather than fall apart, and small potatoes such that the slices will have just the right size as well as look pretty. If you have large potatoes, cut them into halves or quarters first. I couldn’t resist and cooked the potatoes sous-vide because it is so easy and a good way to keep the flavor of the potatoes. The traditional preparation is to steam or boil the potatoes without peeling them first, plunging them briefly in cold water, and then removing the peel and slicing them while they are still warm.
500-600 grams (1.1-1.3 lbs) small waxy potatoes
150 ml (2/3 cup) hot beef stock
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp minced red onion
3 Tbsp chopped chives
Two years ago I organised an evening tasting 12 different wines with 12 different cheeses. Pairing wine and cheese is not as easy as serving a glass of port with everything, as for most cheeses there are much better pairings. Soon after there was a repeat performance with some differences.