Sweet baby potatoes, savory bacon, and a hit of fresh lemon make a perfect side dish for almost any occasion.
Don’t you just love a nice big salad?
Yes, those delicious greens…a nice fresh dressing…bacon, sure…potatoes….
Um, okay, maybe it’s not exactly the kind of salad you grab with your co-workers for a typical Tuesday lunch. But that’s your own mistake. Because this salad is pretty outstanding.
And I wasn’t being ENTIRELY misleading with my opening sentence. Greens = nice healthy chives (those count, right?). Dressing = a lovely citrus blend (okay with bacon…lots of bacon).
In all seriousness, the lemon in the vinaigrette is unexpectedly fresh. You use both the juice and zest, and together they really brighten up the flavors and cut through what might otherwise be a heavy dish. (Heavy? Potato salad? Whaaa…?) I’ve eaten some mighty fine German potato salads with extra-extra-extra bacon, and it’s hard to argue with that kind of logic. But I would actually take this salad, with the bit of citrusy zip, over its similar cousins. Definitely don’t leave out the lemon. (Or the bacon, actually. But I doubt I have to spell that out for you.)
Even the potatoes are a little special. The recipe calls for baby Yukons, but if those are hard to find at your local grocery store, you can use other small varieties, like fingerling. The smaller potatoes tend to have a sweeter, more buttery flavor. They also cook quickly and let you whip up this dish in a flash. Because who wants to wait for something this good?
Even better, this salad (maybe I should just stop calling it that?) goes so nicely with so many things. It’s an obvious partner for barbeque, but the flavors are wide-ranging enough to complement a number of options. Savory, citrusy, with a bit of herbal spice from the chives, it’s happy to hang out with most of your proteins and seasonings.
The best way to serve this dish is slightly warm, the better to bring out its flavor. Room temperature will also do just fine. Chilled isn’t the best choice, because the dressing will get a little thick. But it’s perfectly fine to make it ahead, refrigerate, and then let sit for an hour or so to return to room temperature before serving.
Of course, one of the best things about this potato salad? The fact that you get to tell people you’re making a bacon vinaigrette. Those are words to make mouths drop. I mean, it almost doesn’t matter what it tastes like.
Just kidding, of course it does. Luckily it sounds good, it tastes good, and it eats good. Now that’s a winning salad.
Adapted from Fine Cooking.
- 1¾ lbs. baby Yukon Gold potatoes
- Sprinkle of kosher salt
- 4 strips of bacon
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil - more if the salad seems dry
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. When it starts boiling add a sprinkle of salt, then add the potatoes to the water (make sure the potatoes are fully submerged.) Boil until fully cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Potatoes are done when they pierce easily with a fork. Be careful not to overcook them - they will turn to mush in the salad. When they are done cooking, remove them from the pot and drain into a colander. Run some cold water over them to stop the cooking.
- While the potatoes cook, add the bacon to a large frying pan. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until crispy. When cooked, remove the bacon from the pan and set to drain on a plate covered with a couple paper towels. Let the drippings sit in the pan for now. Crumble or chop the bacon when it has cooled slightly and set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together the shallot, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt.
- When the potatoes have cooked, drained, and cooled slightly, cut them into bite-sized pieces. (If your potatoes are already bite-sized, skip this step.)
- Add the potatoes to the shallot mixture. Add the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of chives, crumbled bacon, and 1 tablespoon of the bacon pan drippings. Stir gently to combine. Don't be too aggressive with your stirring or the potatoes may fall apart.
- At this point, it should like there's a little too much liquid in the salad. The potatoes will absorb the dressing as they cool. If your salad seems on the drier side, add another 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to finish absorbing. Taste and season with pepper and additional salt if necessary.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with the last tablespoon of chives for garnish.
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.