There is perhaps no better accompaniment to a summer barbecue or picnic than a good potato salad. But there are a lot of bad potato salads out there. And I have never been a huge fan of mayonnaise-only potato salads. To me, they tend to be heavy and gloopy and no one wants to eat one that’s been sitting around in the warm weather. And I also prefer a minimum of add-ins. I have seen potato salads over the years with so many extra ingredients it’s hard to find the potatoes. Good potatoes, good dressing and a little texture and color are all that’s really needed.
The small potatoes I find at the farmers market are creamy and lovely and perfect for salad, as they retain their shape and are packed with flavor. A tangy mustard dressing with just a hint of cream is perfect with a sprinkling of herbs. And what can I say about bacon? Perfect with potatoes for added crunch and smoky flavor. Vinegar in the cooking water and drizzled over the cooked potatoes adds a level of flavor and saltiness it’s hard to achieve after the fact.
Mustard and Bacon Potato Salad
4 pounds small potatoes (I like to use a mixture of red-skinned and yellow potatoes)
1 cup white vinegar, divided
8 strips of bacon
3 Tablespoons chopped chives
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley, preferably flat-leaf
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons whole-grain mustard
4 Tablespoons bacon drippings
4 Tablespoons heavy cream
Salt to taste
Scrub the potatoes well and cut them into bite-sized pieces, all about the same size so they cook evenly. Place the potatoes in a large Dutch oven and cover with water by about 1 inch. Add ¾ cup of the vinegar and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 15 minutes. You want your potatoes cooked through and soft, but not falling apart.
Drain the potatoes in a colander, and return to the pan. Pour over the remaining ¼ cup vinegar and gently stir to coat the potatoes. Leave to cool.
Cook the bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels and reserve 4 Tablespoons of bacon fat. Chop the bacon into small pieces and add to the cooled potatoes in the pot. Toss in the chopped chives and chopped parsley and gently stir to combine. Be gentle so the potatoes don’t get roughed up.
In a small bowl whisk together the mustards. Add the bacon fat and whisk until combined. Add the heavy cream and whisk until completely combined and smooth. Pour the dressing over the potatoes, scraping the bowl, and stir gently to coat thoroughly. Taste and add salt if you think you need it.
Spoon the potato salad into a serving bowl, scraping all the good stuff out of the pot and give it one last stir. Refrigerate for at least two hours to chill and allow the flavors to blend, but the salad can be made up to a day ahead and kept covered in the fridge.