There are as many ways to make knephla as there are ways to spell knepfla. Pronunciations vary also depending on, I think, whether we learned to speak German in our households or not.
As a youngster I worked in the local cafe in Gackle with Lavone Deutscher. Between my mother’s good cooking and the restaurant, I developed a wonderful skill set in the kitchen. We never wasted anything cause one of the greatest assets from the cafe was the knowledge of how to use leftovers to create entirely new dishes.
However, in our house we always ate knephla with sauerkraut fried up in an electric fry pan. Of course, I make my own sauerkraut and have turned a lot of folks onto its goodness and health benefits.
When my mother made knephla soup, it was simply water with potatoes, onions, bay leaf and allspice. I use my homemade chicken stock. When it came time to eat, the fry pan was placed on the table and if you wanted soup, you filled a bowl with stock, added fried knephla and a little fresh cream.
At the restaurant I learned that knephla, fried with potatoes and sauerkraut is a dish from heaven when served with roast beef gravy… yum yum yum….
Thank you mom and Lavonne for giving me the best of both worlds. Here is how we make our “buttons.”
Put a cup of flour for each person in a bowl. If you like leftovers, put a couple extra in the bowl. We love leftovers.
Add about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Make a well in the center and add an egg, add two if you are cooking for a multitude of folks (more than 8). Use cold water and a fork and stir the egg and cold water a wee bit at a time into the flour. Now, it takes practice to get it correct, but you don’t want to add too much water. Once you cannot stir it with a fork. Get in there with your hands and “feel” the dough. It will begin to hold together and eventually form a nice firm, not sticky, dough ball. I knead this on the counter as much as I possibly can. Then I cover it with a clean dish towel and prepare the water.
Peel about 1/2 potato for each person and place in a large, very large kettle filled with cold water. Bring this to a boil on high heat and get your scissors ready. Oh, don’t forget to plug in your electric fry pan (mine is more than 30 years old, a gift from my mother.) Add 1/2 a stick of butter and maybe a little vegetable oil (not olive oil, it’s too flavorful) to the butter and begin to heat that pan. Be careful that it doesn’t come to temperature too soon.
When the pot of potato water is rapidly boiling, begin to cut your dough with a scissors into small bites and drop into the water. When they float or have been there for a few minutes – yes, they puff a little, dip them out with a strainer, shake off the extra water and add to the sizzling butter fry pan.
Do NOT stir those babies until you have them all boiled and in there. If you keep the pan at 300° to 350° they will begin to brown nicely. If you have lots of dough, you will need more than one pan…
Get those “buttons” boiled and into those fry pans… when you see that they are browned, turn them and brown the back sides. Add sauerkraut about 20 minutes before serving and of course, salt to taste. Keep in mind sauerkraut is salty.
Serve in soup broth or with a roast beef and gravy. Oh, sausage and sauerkraut is also a good side dish but only if you purchase that sausage in Wishek, Napoleon or Linton.
Until next time – Gute Essen.