German Potato Dumplings

Major pleading was necessary to get Mom to make my favorite childhood meal: German potato dumplings (knuedel), pork chops with gravy and green peas. To this day, when I think of this meal, my mouth waters. I also recall that it was an all-day affair, a time intensive assembly line production.

My busy mother with six kids and a husband to take care of had to be cajoled to put in the time needed to produce this meal. Of course, this automatically made me the mother’s helper, promising to do a few extra chores.

Grandma had made what she called knuedels and that’s where I first got hooked. Then I begged Mom to get the recipe. Preparation of the potatoes started early in the day: boiling, cooling, peeling the skins, mashing, kneading with flour, making snowball-like globes and ending with more boiling.

It was also most important to make too many. Leftovers became a great addition to another meal the next day. The leftover dumplings were sliced and fried in a pan; then a beaten egg was added at the end. Great with lots of butter. I recall me and my siblings rushing to get to the table before they were gone.

When I came home while in college, Mom always grinned as she asked what I’d like for supper, knowing what my answer would be. I don’t think I’ve had this meal since then. But the memory is clear.

In this electronic age, knuedels are all over the internet. They’re on Wikipedia and a half dozen You Tube videos depict the fine points of knuedal creation. Klas, a chef from Munich, has an interesting variation, using half raw potatoes; he adds even more time to the process since its necessary to squeeze the water out of the raw potatoes.

There are many names for this delicacy: knuedel, knodel, kloesse, kartoffelkloesse, schupfnudeln. Versions of recipes and names can be found in most countries in Europe and its noted this was an important staple that stretched the meal for poor and hard-working families.

Though my family wasn’t poor, I recall how Mom stretched our meals with casseroles and knuedels.  And I appreciate, now more than ever, how Mom made, just for me, this rather simple meal that made me feel special.

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