When I would come home from college during my freshmen year, I tried to visit my Great Grandma Filler in the nursing home as often as I could. That woman. Describing her as amazing isn’t doing her justice. She would sometimes talk about her time as a girl (she could talk about the dirt on the floor and I would be just as intrigued). There were few trees on the plains when they (early pioneers) settled and they often used cow pies, or patties (not sure which term she used), as fuel for heating, cooking, and baking. One of her jobs was to collect them. According to her, cow pies made the best fuel for baking bread. I’ll take her word for it. Grandma went on to say that all of their meals, as a child, mother, and grandmother, always included a flour dough, potatoes, fresh meat or canned chicken, canned fruit and vegetables, and perhaps even bread. (Yes, people ate carbs. Lots of them). These were items they almost always had on hand, they were cheap, they filled their bellies and provided necessary energy to complete the daily chores. What I’d do to hear her tell me these stories again…
Knoephla was one of the products they frequently made from a flour dough. It was used in many ways: in soups, with cream and onions, a pocket for cheese (kase knoephla – we’ll get to that recipe later), or in a hotdish with potatoes, homemade sauerkraut, and perhaps sausage. Yep, I said hotdish. Not casserole (another example of a fun regional linguistic difference)! Here’s a delicious way to use knoephla in a HOTDISH:) With bacon. And cream. Jesus? Is that you? Oh…I guess I’m not literally in heaven. Yet. But this sure tastes like heaven to me.
In a large skillet, add bacon, onion, and black pepper.
Cook until onions are browned and bacon is on the crispy side. It will soften in the dish. Remove bacon and onion, place in a crockpot or baking dish. Reserve at least 2 -3 Tbsp of bacon drippings – just keep in the pan.
To the skillet, add vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir for a minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
When you started cooking the bacon, start your potatoes. Cook cubed potatoes in a large pot of simmering/boiling water until soft. Drain.
Place cooked potatoes in crockpot or baking dish. Pour vinegar liquid over the top. Mix in sauerkraut. Cover.
To make the knoephla, beat eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in milk, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add flour until you’ve made a stiff dough. Cut off tennis ball size pieces and roll into ropes on a floured surface. Continue until all the dough has been used.
Using a scissors or a pizza cutter, cut the ropes into small pieces. (This picture gives me goose bumps. For some reason, when I see it, I can almost sense myself working along side my German grandma and great grandma in their kitchens).
Place knoephla carefully into a large pot (the same one you made the potatoes in…one less pot to clean) of boiling water. Stir them around a bit so they don’t stick together. Let simmer or boil for 5-8 minutes. Drain and dump them into the crockpot or baking dish. Almost there!!!
Once knoephla are drained and in your choice of baking ware – crock pot or baking dish, add desired amount of cream, salt (if needed), and pepper. I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t shy away from the cream. I probably use an entire pint. Now, if you want to eat this right away (by now you’ve already pecked away like an 1/8 of it), go the baking dish route and throw it in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this in my crockpot. I’ll make it up in the morning and let all the flavors come together (on warm) until supper (or dinner) time. This is a fun dish to serve right out of the crockpot when friends and family gather. I’ve made it for our family at my kids’ birthday parties – always a hit. If there’s any left, it makes great left overs! Now go….and be German.
*I have also subbed bacon with our homemade venison ring sausage. It turns out just as great. But, you will need to add a little oil or butter to a skillet (2-3 Tbsp.), before making the vinegar mixture, since there will obviously be no bacon fat.
For your printing convenience…
- 1 pound bacon, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 7-8 potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 pint (or more) sauerkraut, mostly drained
- ¼ c vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 c milk
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- all purpose flour
- 1-2 c cream
- In a large skillet, fry bacon, onion, and black pepper until bacon is fairly crisp and onion is caramelized. Remove them from the skillet and place in a crockpot or baking dish. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the bacon fat (just keep it in the skillet). Bring the heat up to medium to med-high. Add vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir constantly for a minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large pot, add potatoes, boil until soft (I start the potatoes while my bacon is frying). Drain and add potatoes to crockpot or baking dish. Pour vinegar mixture from skillet over potatoes. Stir in sauerkraut.
- To make the knoephla, beat 2 eggs. Add milk, salt, and baking powder. Whisk together. Gradually add flour until you've made a stiff dough. Cut tennis ball pieces off of dough. Form ropes (see above picture) on floured surface until all the dough has been used. Cut with a scissors or pizza cutter to make small pieces. Add to a boiling pot of water, stirring so pieces don't stick together. Let simmer for about 5-8 mintues. Drain and place knoephla into the crockpot or baking dish.
- Add cream, salt, and pepper to taste.
- If you're using a baking dish, cover and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through. Or if you want to start it early and eat later, use a crockpot, set on warm.
- *bacon can be swapped out for ring sausage, but you'll need to add a little butter or oil to start the vinegar mixture.