Land of the Dumplings
October 3rd, 2006

Germany, especially its southern corner, Bavaria, has a deserved strong reputation for dumplings – in good company with its neighbors Austria or the Czech Republic. Sweet or savory, there’s a breathtaking variety being offered in restaurants ranging from low to high end, as well as on a regular lunch table. A traditional holiday dinner in our family would not be complete without dumplings (of some sort) and it’s simply impossible for me to understand how anybody can actually not love them.

Pretzel dumpling

Compared to other countries in the world, Germany is considerably smaller in terms of surface, but with probably an equal amount of peculiarities across the regions. How to tell whether someone is from the North or South? Let him or her order a side of dumplings and it may quickly show: People from North Germany would ask for “Klöße” while we Southerners -so to speak- refer to them as “Knödel“. Definitely a regional thing. Hint: avoid ordering Schweinsbraten with “Klöse” in any traditional restaurant in Bavaria – the least you get is a raised eyebrow from a potentially grumpy Bavarian waitress. Who will possibly top it off with a murmured “Saupreiß” – a not so nice term for somebody from North Germany ;)

Pretzel

September is the best season to eat bread or pretzel dumplings, because now is the right time to not only serve them as a standard side to a superior roast, but as the clou, enthroned in the midst of a creamy chanterelle sauce – a dish you’ll find in nearly each and every Bavarian restaurant during mushroom season. And it surely makes me feel like a kid again, back then, when dumplings with sauce (“Knödel mit Soße”) was pretty much the only thing I wanted in restaurants…the picky eater I once was.

Remove the coarse salt from the dry pretzels (one or two days old). Cut them in slices or little cubes, the thinner, the better. Put in a large bowl with hot milk, briefly stir and let rest for half an hour until all pieces are soaked.

Heat the butter in a small pan, add chopped bacon and onion and sauté over medium heat for one or two minutes. Then add to the pretzel mix together with the two eggs, the chopped parsley and the spices. Knead thoroughly with your hands and season to your liking. If the mixture is too firm, add some more milk, if it is too soft, some breadcrumbs will help.

Bring water to a boil in a large pot, add a decent pinch of salt. Occasionally wet your hands with cold water (to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers) and take a handful of the mix forming equally sized dumplings. Carefully let them glide into the now simmering water. Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size.

Meanwhile prepare the chanterelle sauce: Clean the chanterelles, cut large ones in smaller pieces.

Heat the butter in a large pan, add the chopped shallot, sauté over medium heat for one or two minutes, then add the chanterelles. Stir-fry briefly, then deglaze with broth and double cream (or heavy cream). Refine it -optionally- with a dash of cognac or sherry and season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg. Add the chopped parsley just before serving.

Decorate the assembled dish with fresh chopped chives.

Roasted pretzel dumplings

In case you have leftovers (dumplings only) – and we make sure to always have some – , keep them in the fridge over night (wrapped in foil). They’re perfect for one of my favorite 5-minute-left-over-dishes: Slice and pan-fry them in butter together with chopped onions and bacon. Then add a couple of eggs, fresh chives and salt and pepper, stir until everything sets. Best served in the hot pan. This is what you will get on Bavarian menus under the term “Knödelgröschtl“.

Roasted pretzel dumplings with eggs

Pretzel dumplings with creamed chanterelle mushrooms

Recipe source: mum & grandma’s recipe

Prep time: 30min., cooking: 15-20min.

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Ingredients (yield: ~5 dumplings):

200-250g old pretzels(~4 small pretzels), sliced

150ml hot milk

1 tbsp butter

30g bacon, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 eggs

fresh parsley, chopped

salt, freshly ground black pepper, nutmeg

additional milk or breadcrumbs, if necessary

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Creamed chanterelle mushroom sauce (serves 2):

1 tbsp butter

1-2 shallots, finely chopped

250g chanterelles, cleaned

100-200ml vegetable broth

100ml double cream (or heavy cream)

optional: 2 tbsp cognac or sherry

salt, freshly ground black pepper, nutmeg

fresh parsley, finely chopped

for decoration: fresh chives, finely chopped

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2006

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