Sorry for the complete nerd-out in my prior post. My mind was numb and easily influenced and I had just finished watching this episode of Family Guy. I'm pretty sure my mind had turned into a Knödel. Really.
Now before I go into my long-winded story about Knödel, let's get our facts straight:
- Knödel, der – noun: round dumpling, often made of potato and/or bread.
- pronounced k-ner-dl
- can be found in Germany, Austria and Czech Republic
- consumed by the tonne at Oktoberfest
- can be savoury or sweet.
I believe I first encountered this Bavarian native in 2000, at the fabulously kitsch German restaurant in the Dandenongs – Cuckoo. Among the smorgasbord of sausage, I spied the innocent/over processed-looking ball of potato/polenta/Deb. Reoccurring theme on the blog? TEXTURE!! Yes, the texture is what appealed to me. With the ball of something on my plate, along with some roast meat and gravy, I was on-board.
I repeated this scene at Oktoberfest last year, almost ten years since that first encounter (yikes, I just gave away a rough estimate of my age) and it was still love – although I may have been a little drunker this time around. Regardless, the fact remained that whatever it is about Knödel that Germans, Austrians, Czech and whoever else wishes to join this bandwagon, like, I like too.
So, you can imagine my joy when rolling around my local Kaiser (name of my nearest supermarket) I came across a whole pop-up stand of Knödel! Mini-Knödel, big Knödel, Semmel Knödel, halb und halb Knödel, all there. There were even different brands, including a no-name brand for all the skint Berliners, of which there are many. Although I think they generally shop at Penny Markt, Lidl and Aldi.
After chowing down on Knödel und Wurst at regular gastronomic intervals, and after stumbling across what is possibly the World's best cook book I thought: “hey, I'm low on content for my blog, why don't I just make some Knödel and document the process?” Genius, Fifi, sehr sehr klug!
I looked through the potato bible, occasionally wiping saliva (there will be more posts on the potato gems from this book – ha, potato gems) humming and hawing over just which type of Knödel I would make. There are a LOT of different types of Knödel , ranging from straight mashed potato, to mixes with flour, semolina, ham, breadcrumbs, filled centres, boiled, broiled, breaded. It's astounding just how many different kinds of dumpling there are!
Finally, I made my choice: Bayrische Reibeknödel.
In readiness, I purchased 1.5kgs of potato, four bread rolls and made sure we had salt in the house – just kidding, we ALWAYS have salt in this house! Then, it was go time.
Being radically awesome at German, I didn't use a dictionary to translate the recipe, but I will for you, because I am kind.
4 bread rolls
1000g raw potato
500g cooked potato
Heat the milk and pour over the rolls. Peel, wash and grate the potatoes. Squeeze excess water from potatoes using a dish towel. Combine the cooked and raw potato and bread rolls. Add salt. With damp hands, form dumplings. Place the dumplings in boiling, salted water, and leave them for 15 minutes, or until they are cooked (this may be a bit longer than 15 minutes *sigh*).
I peeled 1.5kg of potatoes. I felt like I was in the Navy, peeling spud after spud. My hands acquired a flour-like coating, and one part of my peeling hand was quite red from being constantly stabbed by the implement it was wielding.
Then, once I was done peeling, it was time to GRATE. Great! (too lame?)
I grated one kilo of potatoes. Yep, grated me a whole freakin kilo of 'tater. I grated part of my nail too, but thanks to me wearing dark nail polish, was easily able to fish it out and give it a proper burial. And don't give me 'ew, she grated her nail' – we've all done it.
I chopped 500g potato and boiled it to create mashed potato.
I sliced four bread rolls into thin slices and covered them in milk.
I combined. Slowly, the immense whiteness of grated and mashed potato and bread rolls came together, and I was able to shape tennis ball-sized dumplings. They looked marvellous – like the real deal.
And then I boiled. Perhaps too rapidly. Bits of grated potato began swimming about the pot, like terrified tetras, like a snow dome. Fifteen minutes arrived and I rescued my babies out of their boiling-hot bath. They had lost weight. On top of that, they hadn't bothered to cook themselves!
Being the klug child that I am/not having enough room in the pot, I had only cooked half the batch on my first round. That meant, I could still redeem myself in round two. If Tania Zaetta had asked me at the end of round one, a la Who Dares Wins 'was that your plan?' I would have said 'heck no, Tania.'
Round two saw me turn down the heat, and this gave a much better – albeit slower – result. The round two Knödel maintained their weight and form. I like to think that Knödel are much like children – you always screw up the first one and then get it right the second time around. No prizes for guessing which child I am (sorry Chumbrero!)
So finally, some two hours after I laid eyes on that sack-a-pataytas, we had a result. Sadly (or gladly?) my Knödel didn't really taste much like the dumplings of Oktoberfest, or Cuckoo or even no-name brand: they tasted too real.
So meine Freunde that was the great Knödel experiment, mark one. There will be mark two. There are just so many different types of Knödel that to NOT make Knödel again would actually be a bit mean to the other Knödel.
When that time comes, however is another matter.
So until next time, may the force be with you. Or something.