in the kitchen

in the kitchen

Monday, February 4, 2013

Knodels with Ham and Bacon

This dish may seem a bit complicated but it is not really. A few steps, none of them difficult. And the end product is so worth it! Another Austrian specialty that I learned of too late in life. Amy buys these in several varieties but the speck kind are the only ones I can imitate here in Utah using ham and bacon. The paprika sauce is similar to what I have had with knodels but another sauce would be fine if you don't like paprika. Traditional accompaniment is Sweet and Sour Purple Cabbage.
Knodels split open to receive sauce, served with fresh kraut
Knodels with Ham and Bacon
2 cups cooked potato, riced (baking is preferred to boiling)
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons dry quick cooking grits (see Hints for substitutions)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 eggs

Place potato in a mixing bowl. Add flour, grits, salt and pepper then mix thoroughly but lightly. Mix in the eggs. The dough should be light and a bit sticky, add more flour if it is too sticky. You will need to be able to handle it with floured hands. Set aside to rest while make the filling.
5 slices bacon, diced
1/2 cup sweet white onion
1/2 cup diced ham
Cook bacon and onion in a hot skillet for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place ham in a food processor and pulse 10 to 12 times. When bacon is about half way to crispy, add onions and bacon to the ham in the processor bowl and pulse another 10 times. The meat mixture should be crumbly, not smooth. Discard any bacon drippings that have accumulated in the skillet up to this point.  Return bacon and ham to skillet and cook for 5 more minutes or until browned.
Mincing ham in a food processor is quick
With floured hands, divide dough into 16 pieces by pinching it in half and those halves in half, etc. Set dough balls on a floured board. Flatten a ball into a 3 inch disc with your fingers and hold in a cupped hand. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center and press down slightly with your other thumb. Seal the filling inside by pinching the edges of the disc together. The seal needs to be complete or water will seep inside while cooking. Gently roll the knodel between your palms to round it out. Replace on the floured board and repeat to fill each dough piece.
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a deep pan. Place 8 knodels in the water and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. They will begin to float at about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, place in a serving dish and keep warm by covering with foil. Cook remaining 8 knodels the same way.
Paprika Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon beef stock paste
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Melt butter in a small sauce pan. Whisk in paprika and beef stock paste. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Mix cornstarch with water then whisk into sauce base. Continue to cook until cornstarch has cleared and sauce has thicken slightly. Keep warm to serve.
To serve, spoon sauce over knodels. (Cutting slits in them first will allow the sauce inside.)

Hints: I use my hands to mix the dough, that way I can tell if it is too sticky. You can't take flour out so add it in a bit at a time if you need any extra. Grits are not necessary but some type of absorbent grain product helps, Cream of Wheat, bread crumbs or corn meal would work.  Make sure you do not over process the ham and bacon. There should be some texture in the final product. Multi-tasking is the way to go here--start the cabbage while you are making the dough. Make the sauce while the knodels are boiling. That way everything will be ready at the same time. Left over knodels are good warmed in a microwave. I just store them with the sauce and reheat all at once.

This meal says Austria to me more than any other except perhaps schnitzel. I have found Austrian food to be amazing. The traditional regional dishes are inspiring and can be modernized to fit with a healthy lifestyle. An emphasis on fresh, seasonal food is not just a United States phenomenon. Technique is not strictly a French or Italian or Chinese component. Obviously, neither is flavor. There are many cuisines in the world that we can appreciate, be inspired by and thoroughly enjoy.


  1. Replies
    1. It must be hard to choose a favorite! You can always discuss it over a Semmel spread thickly w/ butter. I know I would if I were there.