This is a straight-ahead potato salad, with hard-cooked eggs replaced by bacon. Use good potatoes, don’t overcook them, make your own mayonnaise, get the high-end thick-cut bacon (Nueske’s, Snake River Farms, Benton’s Country Hams, and Zingerman’s all have excellent offerings on the web, or seek out the pork guy at your local farmer’s market), and pay attention to the seasoning.
Makes about 2 quarts, to serve 8 to 12
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 or 7 large potatoes), peeled and cut into ¾-inch dice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
6 ounces thick-cut bacon
1 cup Mayonnaise or store-bought mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 small red onion, finely diced (about ⅓ cup)
1 rib celery, finely diced
10 to 12 cornichons, finely chopped
¼ cup attractive celery leaves, for garnish (optional)
Plate lined with newspaper
Place the potatoes in a medium, heavy-bottom pot and cover by 1 inch with cold water. Add the white vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt, stir lightly, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through, then remove from heat, drain, and arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan to cool.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove from the skillet and drain on the plate lined with newspaper. Once cool enough to handle, cut or crumble the bacon into small pieces.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the potatoes, bacon, onion, celery, and cornichons and fold together with a spatula. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with the celery leaves, if using, and serve.