There’s a high likelihood that you’ve made a potato salad before – or at least eaten one. You might not, however, have stumbled across this simple twist on the classic dish – potato salad with bacon and egg. The recipe comes from the region of Liège in the small but mighty nation of Belgium. Belgians know it as “salade liégeoise”.
Putting potato, bacon, and egg together in a meal is no new thing – it’s an age-old winner when it comes to cooked breakfasts for example. But this combination in a salad is something rather different.
As you can imagine, there are several different potato salad recipes. The key ingredients for this version are new potatoes, green beans, shallots, bacon, and eggs. This egg and bacon potato salad recipe manages to feel like a true treat. As is often the case with Belgian food, it's quite hearty and filling.
About the recipe
The trail that the humble potato has blazed through history is pretty incredible. In fact, it’s no stretch to say that this starchy root vegetable has, in its way, changed the world! Time for a little history lesson…
Did you know that potatoes haven’t been a global foodstuff for all that long? Originally, they grew wild in South America where they were cultivated for eating by indigenous populations up to 10 thousand years ago. It wasn’t until the Spanish Conquistadors returned from their exploits in Latin America that the potato found its way across the Atlantic to Europe – around the end of the 16th century.
At first, people were suspicious of this new food, calling potatoes the “devil’s apples”, and they were used as animal fodder. But eventually, they began to be accepted as a food crop by farmers who began to cultivate them. It was lowly peasant fare, a staple crop to rely on.
It wasn’t long before everyone was eating potatoes. Today, historians believe that this simple tuber was hugely responsible for the population boom and rapid urbanization of the 19th century. The potato is now the fourth-largest food crop in the world, after maize, wheat, and rice.
It’s no surprise, then, that there are so many different ways of eating potatoes! From roasties to mash, fries to baked, they’re at the heart of hundreds of dishes all over the world. But where did potato salad come from?
Well, apparently; Germany. It was the Germans that originally put potatoes in a salad, but the idea quickly spread through Europe and was then taken back across the ocean and introduced to America by European immigrants in the 19th century. Isn’t it funny to think of the humble potato making these revolutionary trips crisscrossing the Atlantic?
Nowadays every household has its own take on the potato salad. American-style potato salad tends to be served cold or at room temperature, with a bit of mayonnaise as dressing. French potato salad often has fish in. Russian potato salad has a heap of vegetables and meat in too. The list goes on.
Belgian salad is made with cooked boiled potatoes, tender green beans, fried bacon, and boiled eggs, bound in a mustard and vinegar dressing. This tasty potato salad recipe is served as a main course (normally in colder winter months), but it can equally be included as a delicious side dish.
It’s a really simple recipe. For best results, you can put the eggs straight into a bowl of cold water as soon as they’ve finished boiling. This stops the eggs from overcooking (keeping the egg yolk nice and soft). It’s also a top tip for making the eggs much easier to de-shell. You can do the same with the beans to set the color and keep them crispy.
Many potato salads don’t use bacon but use mayonnaise or cream. This recipe does the opposite – the dressing is much more healthy, being just a simple vinaigrette, while the fact that it’s a potato salad with bacon still makes it feel decadent.
Don’t feel compelled to stick strictly to the recipe. This is one of those meals you can really make your own. Feel free to spruce up the potato salad with bacon by adding whatever you have in your fridge – if you’re vegetarian, you could swap the bacon for baby tomatoes for example.
You could easily add other vegetables to the green bean and bacon salad, from beetroot to chopped celery, scallions, chives, red onion… they’d all be welcome.
You can cook the potatoes how you like too. Some people prefer to cube them small and slightly undercook them so they’re hard and crunchy, while some like to cook them that bit longer so they’re slightly fluffy around the edges and absorb more of the dressing.
Either way, serve the potato, egg, and bacon salad in a large bowl warm just after you’ve made it, or cold if you’d prefer.
The potato salad dressing is a point of contention in Liège. Apparently, on one side of the city, people say the best potato salad dressing uses a stronger spirit vinegar, while other families proclaim it must have crème fraîche and red onion. If you want to keep it simple, you can’t go wrong with mixing 2 tablespoons cider vinegar with 4 tablespoons olive oil and some whole grain mustard, 1 tablespoon should do it.
Liégeoise salad recipe
Ingredients for a potato and green bean salad with bacon
For 3 persons
- 500g new potatoes
- 300g fine beans
- 4 slices of smoked bacon (1 cm thick)
- 2 shallots
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper
Method for making your green bean salad with bacon and potato
1. Keeping the potatoes in their skin, give them a good clean. Put them (with their skin on) in a large pan or Dutch oven full of water, so that all the potatoes are covered. Bring to a boil and boil them for about 25 minutes and then drain and leave to cool.
2. Cut the tips off the green beans and bring to a boil in salted water until the beans are al dente (crisp and tender). If you like, you can plunge the beans into a bowl of cold water afterward – this stops the cooking process and helps the beans keep their vibrant color.
3. Take your smoked bacon, and cut out all the fat and hard gristly bits. Then, chop the bacon up into small pieces ready for frying.
4. Boil the eggs for 8 minutes – they should still be soft.
5. Fry the bacon and shallots together in a little bit of butter until cooked through. Do not overdo them at this stage. Add in the al dente beans and boiled new potatoes.
6. Now it’s time to make the dressing. Mix together the olive oil, cider vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper.
7. Cut the potatoes in half.
8. On a deep serving dish or large bowl, mix the potatoes, beans, and bacon together. Cut the eggs in half. Place the eggs on top, and add the dressing to suit your taste.
Now there’s only one thing for it – for you to go and make it to decide for yourself whether this is the best potato salad recipe out there!
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