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Barbecue sides can be as much of an art as slow smoking meat itself. It's confounding to me then why so many joints treat sides as an afterthought, thinking it's ok to serve sorry items like bland mayo-drenched potato salads alongside masterful pieces of beef and pork. I know the meat is the main attraction, but there's something to be said for a more robust meal, one that is only enhanced by seriously delicious sides like this German potato salad.
What's commonly referred to as "German potato salad" in the United State has its origins in Southern Germany. There, mayo is dropped in favor of vinegar and oil, and the whole thing is laden with crispy bacon. It just so happens that this combo of salty smoked meat and tangy vinegar is a perfect complement to America barbecue.
For this recipe, I like to use a waxy variety of potatoes rather than starchy since they hold their shape better when mixed with the bacon, sautéed onions, vinegar, and mustard. Traditionally it's finished with a dose of parsley, but because I find too much parsley starts to overpower and taste a little bitter, I add a mixture of parsley and chives to give the right amount of freshness with a bonus light oniony flavor.
Now this is a side worthy of a seat next to stack of fatty brisket. The tartness of the vinegar and slight bite of mustard flavor the potatoes well. Add to that the smoky bacon and slightly sweet onions, and the usual bases of barbecue flavor are covered. This potato salad fits seamlessly into a barbecue meal and offers a nice change pace when you need a break from chomping down on meat alone.
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