Coming back from holiday in Germany and I got myself some nice cooking books, my german isn’t so good yet, so it takes forever to understand a single recipe. But the one recipe I’ve always wanted to reproduce is the famous Knödel. This potato dumpling is in so many meals up in Germany or Central Europe for that matter, it’s accompany to perfection any meal with some type of gravy or sauce, even soups. There are tons of different styles of Knödel, for example with mushrooms, meat, spinach, etc. Also, I don’t want to make the easy kind Knödel made with bread or eggs… no…no… I want to learn the difficult one made just with potatoes (cooked and raw). I have to say in those 3 books I bought, I took the version of this recipe that had the most steps. I’ve learn this isn’t so easy to make so better be well informed before starting, no?
First of all, the potato choice is important to achieve a great Knödel. You’ll need a starchy potato like Russet or a multipurpose potato like the famous Yukon or Kennebec. Truely… just the amount of starch you’ll have to calibrate yourself to make the dumplings hold depending on the type you’ll use. I’ve used this time a potato multi purpose called “agria” (in Spain) and it did need double the amount of starch from the original recipe. So the best way to know if you have the good amount of starch is to test your Knödel. You make one test and you’ll see if it still holds after 20 minute in warm water you ready to go… if not… you add a tablespoon of starch and semola. So I had to change the amounts of the original recipe, and you might probably have to adjust your recipe also. The trick is to make tests and once you reach a good mix, then you’ll keep it for life.
As for the stew, I’ve used all German typical ingredients although it is my own recipe, not a traditional one. It’s basically a “boeuf bourguignon” but I’ve exchange the wine for a nice German dark wheat beer, add some German aromatics like caraway, juniper, laurel and parsley for my aromatics. Also to make it a touch more creamy, I add a touch of heavy cream to calm down all the strong flavors and make it onctuous.
So let’s get to it!
German beer beef stew with Knödeln (potato dumpling)
Makes 4 portions
For the stew
- 600g of beef cubes of 5cm
- 500 ml of dunkel weissbier (Franziskaner) or a wheat beer of your choice
- 50ml of heavy cream
- 30g of butter
- 1 carrot cut into dices
- 1 onion chopped
- 6 mushrooms (button or else)
- laurel leaf
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 5 juniper
- 1 tbsp of cornstarch (in a bit of cold water to thicken the soup in the final stage)
- salt and pepper
- 1 kg (about 8 medium sized) of “starchy” potato (ex; russet) or if you use a less starchy kind of potato (yukon,kennebec), double the amount of both semolina and starch to the mix
- 80ml of milk
- 1 tbsp of starch (cornstarch)
- 1 tbsp of semolina
- 1 tbsp of butter
- 1 slice of white bread toast cut into small cubes
- salt, pepper, nutmeg *last one optional
- Season with salt and pepper the beef dices
- Add the butter to a deep pan and bring to high heat
- Add the pieces of beef and brown them on each side
- Add the onion, carrot and aromatics (juniper, caraway and laurel)
- Add the whole beer
- Let simmer for 2h30 hours, moving it to make sure the bottom doesn’t stick
- In the last 30 minutes, add the mushroom
- In the last 5 minutes, add the cornstarch mixed with cold water to thickens the broth
- Check the seasonning and take off the fire
- Add the touch of cream
The Knödel (potato dumplings)
- Peel and cut into small cubes the 1/2 of the potatoes
- Cook in salty boiling water until soft
- Peel and grate finely the rest of the potatoes
- Add to a cheesecloth, or kitchen towel and squeeze all the juice out into a bowl (let the starch separate, takes about 10 minutes)
- In a medium size sauce pan, warm up the milk and add the raw grated potato , the semolina, butter, salt, nutmeg and pepper and mix well (take of the fire)
- Make purée with the cooked potatoes and add to the mix
- Eliminate the water from the drained potato juice and keep only the bottom starch
- Add the starch to the mix and the extra cornstarch
- Check for the seasoning a last time
- Toast a piece of white bread and cut it into cubes *optional, add a piece or two in the middle of the dumplings.
- Make a dumpling with wet hands and add to warm (barely simmering) salty water, don’t boil or the dumplings will get destroyed
- At this point you make a single Knödel to test your potato mixture (optional but highly recommended)
- Let them in the barely simmering water for 20-25 minutes
- Serve with a pinch of salt and add some chives or parsley as a topping.
YUMM!! I love Knodle! Unfortunalty no one makes them in Canada(unless you make them at home)!!
It’s a bit of an effort to make… but worth it in the end.
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