My recent series on English pub grub-inspired appetizers got me to thinking about things that are typically offered in a German “Kneipe” (pub) or a “Biergarten” (beer garden). One place where we used to like to go a lot, because they had some really nice outdoor seating, also had the best bologna salad in town. Yes, bologna salad. Keep in mind, though, that GERMAN bologna is not what Americans think of when they talk about bologna. For one thing, in Germany any kind of sausage is cut WAAAY thinner than in the States. “Thick cut”, a prized expression here, would be frowned upon where I grew up. We don’t think of bigger as better in this respect.
Also, the equivalent of bologna in Germany is called “Lyoner” (don’t ask me why – I’m pretty sure the people in that city have never heard of it) and in itself probably THE most popular slice of sausage to force into the hands of children at the butcher’s as a treat. I’m not kidding, it used to drive my mother NUTS. The sausage itself is nothing exciting, kind of bland (hence the “children’s treat” attribute) and lighter in color than American bologna. However, as a salad base it is PERFECT, exactly because of this. And I finally found something close enough to it at the West Side Market in Cleveland.
This place in my hometown I mentioned made a version of bologna salad called “Straßburg-Style“ (Straßburger Wurstsalat). Again, named after a city in France where they probably never heard of it. (OK, I didn’t research it, but 99% of all cases where foods in Germany are named after some [foreign] place, it just sounded nice but doesn’t exist there, or under a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT name .) It was served with pan-fried potatoes on the side. Comfort food, and great with a glass of German beer.
How do you like to eat your bologna?
You’ll find the following in the notes to the recipe as well, but here are some hints on how to make this dish:
- Make sure you slice the bologna into strips as thin as you can. That way it will actually mingle with the other ingredients better.
- One whole medium sharp onion seems like a lot, but it will “disappear” into the salad and you will not even know it’s there.
Making perfect pan-fried potatoes: This is a quick go-to “side” for a brunch etc., but most people actually don’t know how to make it properly. Ideally, perfect pan-fried potatoes should have the following characteristics: crispy and golden brown on the outside with a slight crunch, soft and creamy on the inside with still a slight “bite” left. Most people don’t bother, and so mostly they turn out mushy and unexciting. Which is also the reason they aren’t found on very many restaurant menus anymore.
- Make sure your cooked potatoes have some “bite” left – they should be done, but still firm. A potato that stays firm when cooked obviously works best.
- Slice your cooked and peeled potatoes into slices about 5 mm thick.
- Heat up a couple of tablespoons of good frying oil in a non-stick pan. Place a single layer of potato slices on the bottom of the pan. Fry on medium high heat until that side is golden brown and crispy, then turn and repeat with the other side. Continue the process with the remaining potatoes. Yes, this takes longer than just dumping all of the potatoes into the pan, but the results are SO worth it.
- If you’re adding other ingredients, like onions or bacon, fry those separately and combine in a bowl or other container afterwards.
- 453 g (1 lb) light-colored bologna, thinly sliced
- 227 g (1/2 lb) aged swiss cheese, thinly sliced
- 6 medium kosher dills
- 1 medium sharp onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 12 tablespoons* olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 6 g (1 tsp) salt
- 1 g (1/2 tsp) black ground pepper
- 6 firm, medium potatoes
- olive oil for frying
- salt & pepper to taste
- Cut the bologna, cheese and onion halves in to very thin strips.
- Cut the dills into small cubes.
- Combine all in a salad bowl.
- Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
- Cook all potatoes until done. They should still be firm.
- Shock cooked potatoes with cold water, let cool and peel completely. Cut into slices about 5 mm thick.
- Heat up some olive oil in a non-stick pan.
- Place a layer of potato slices in the pan. Fry until golden brown and crispy on one side, then turn and repeat with the other side.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Fry all remaining potatoes in the same manner.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the salad ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Let rest for at least an hour so the flavors have a chance to develop.
- Place on a dinner plate with a side of pan-fried potatoes.