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La Batalla del Knoedel

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La historia de un arma secreta alemana  transformada en un delicioso platillo por los italianos.

 

Si alguna vez ves la palabra knödel en un menú alemán, asegúrate de tener todos tus asuntos en orden y ante notario antes de proceder.  Más de un turista ha muerto ahogado con uno de estos sabrosos dumplings del tamańo de una pelota de tenis.  La gente de Leipzig cuenta con orgullo como se deshicieron de una división entera del ejército de Napoleón con sólo una olla de knödel dejada en una casa para que las tropas invasoras la encontraran.  El monumento  Knoedelschlachtdenkmal, en forma de una olla gigante de knödel, celebra esta victoria.

La magia de la cocina italiana es tal que cuando el humilde knödel cruzó los alpes para llegar a Südtyrol, un chef italiano lo levantó y con sólo un beso convirtió al feo sapo alemán en un príncipe encantador.  Para evitar cualquier confusión nociva para la salud, el knödel fue rebautizado como canederli, su nombre italiano.

Comí los mejores canederli de mi vida en Vigilius, un elegante hotel de diseńador a 1500m de altura en Südtyrol.  Tales eran mis prejuicios contra los Knödels alemanes que cuando el chef salió de la cocina para venir a saludarme, no podía creer lo que veían mi ojos.  Hans Peter Pinkowski, el chef, es un alemán entrenado en Austria.  Pinkoswki: 'También hacemos Knödels como se debe en Alemania, aunque no es lo común.  Muchos cocineros simplemente mezclan todo junto.  Algunos incluso agregan harina - eso sí que ahogará a un cliente sin duda.  Pero yo aprendí a hacer Knöedels en Austria, el país donde se originó la mayor parte de todo lo germánico.  Hacemos todo tipo de Knödels, tradicionales como los Leberknödels (con hígado), Speckknödel (con puerco deshidratado) o los Spinatknödels.  Mientras mantengas la proporción entre ingredientes secos y húmedos, puedes agregar cualquier cosa a los knödel'.

Knoedels de Espinaca[knuh-dayl] 
Para 25 piezas
500gr/1lb pan de caja duro sin costra (el peso ya sin costra)
100ml/3 oz leche
200gr/7oz echalote
Un manojo grande de espinacas, como 100gr/3oz 3 huevos
Un manojo de cebollín
Sal, pimienta, nuez moscada
100gr/3oz mantequilla
Queso para rayar, como Graukäse o un buen parmesano recién rallado.

La base de los knodels es un problema clásico de la cucina povera: como utilizar pan duro de una manera atractiva.  Los sicilianos lo secan y lo hacen migajas para incluirlas en las albóndigas.  Los Valaisianos hierven pan duro de centeno con jarabe de grosella y vino para hacer un postre.  Aquí lo cortan en cubitos, lo remojan en leche, le ańaden unos huevos y algunas hierbas y hacen bolitas que cuecen en caldo.  

Retira la costra de las rebanadas de pan.  El pan debe estar duro como piedra - punto.  Si no lo está, espera otro día, el proceso de endurecimiento es distinto del secado o tostado, necesita haberse endurecido naturalmente con el tiempo.

Corta el pan en cubitos.

Pela y pica finamente el echalote...

... luego déjalo sudar con un pedazo de mantequilla en una sartén a fuego medio.

Lava y quita los tallos a la espinaca y ańádela al echalote en cuanto esté blando.  Remueve a fuego alto hasta que la espinaca esté suave.

Coloca la espinaca en una tabla de cortar y córtala a lo largo, luego a lo ancho.

Regrésala al fuego y ańade la leche.  Ahora bien, la cantidad de líquido que utilices determiniará si haces o destrozas los knödel.  Si la espinaca soltó un poco de líqido, reduce la cantidad de leche para obtener los mismos 100ml/3oz.

Vacía la mezcla sobre el pan duro.  'Unos knödels bien hechos no llevan harina, los haría chiclosos.  La manera correcta de hacer knödels es dejar que primero absorvan el líquido por media hora, y después ańadir los huevos'.  Me dijo Pinkowksi.

Bate los huevos (aquí uso sólo uno ya que preparé 1/3 parte de la receta apuntada, pues no podía tener paramédicos presentes durante la degustación).

Pica el cebollín.

M. Pinkowski no incorpora queso rallado en sus knödels, sino que sólo le espolvorea un poco al servir.  Sin embargo, muchas recetas prefieren agregar un poco dentro del knödel también.  Aquí utilicé un queso verdaderamente especial, un Graukäse que compré en Campo Tures en el Valle Aurina, en los confines de Italia y Austria.  Otro día les platicaré acerca de este queso y de como se hace.  Permítanme sólo decir que es un queso muy, muy agrio cuya sola apariencia te hará confesar lo que sea en segundos.

Después de 30 minutos todo el líquido ha sido absorvido por el pan.  Agrega los huevos batidos, el queso rallado, el cebollín y sazona a tu gusto.  Admito haber utilizado un poco más líquido que los 100ml indicados por Herr Pinkowski, solo para darme cuenta después que los huevos ańaden mucho más fluído.  No se le corrige la nota a un cocinero alemán.

Aquí tienes la masa fresca de tus knödel.  En los restaurantes alemanes puede suceder, especialmente en tiempos de guerra, que la masa se vuelve a utililzar al día siguiente, y el que le sigue también.  Esto se llama armar los knödel.  Pero si los estás haciendo para ti o para gente que aprecias, mejor hazlos justo antes de comer.

Con las manos mojadas, excava en la masa y forma una bola del tamańo de una pelota de golf.  Asegúrate de que las bolas estén parejas, sin hoyos.  Los míos son knödels de principiante, demasiado húmedos, los cubos de pan demasiado grandes, las hojas de espinaca muy grandes también.  Observa la foto del inicio, para tener los knödels del Sr.  Pinkowski's como referencia.  Coloca los knödels en una charola de plástico tray o en una tabla de madera engrasada.

Llena tu olla más grande de agua, agrégale sal, tápala y ponla a hervir a fuego alto; que hierva con furor.  Mi amigo Karl Telfser, que tiene una empresa de banquetes, prefiere cocinar los  canederli/knödels al vapor, 'de otra manera, al hervirlos la mitad del sabor desaparece en el agua'. Ańade los knödels uno por uno...

... y déjalos hervir unos 20 minutos. 'Los puedes hervir de 20 a 30 minutos. Asegúrate que la temperatura interior alcance al menos 65şC - eso es por razones sanitarias.  Aquí en Vigilius hacemos la masa a diario, o sea que el riesgo no es tan grande, pero en Alemania y en Austria algunas veces mantienen la masa un par de días más- ya sabes a que me refiero' explicó Pinkowski.

Retíralos con una cuchara perforada o un colador.  NO vacíes toda la olla y esperes obtener knödels que la gente pueda comer.  No funcionará pues el peso del agua, los convertirá en pudin.  Péscalos, uno a uno - es la única manera.

Derrite un pedazo grande de mantequilla en una sartén...

Y revuélca los knödels en la mantequilla derretida hasta que estén totalmente cubiertos.

Sírvelos como primer tiempo con queso rallado encima y una ensalada.  Yo le sirvo dos a cada invitado - el doble de lo que se requiere para lograr el cometido.


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41 comentarios

I think there's a German saying that goes "that tastes like another". Congratulations Francois on another great recipe, which I will try out as soon as possible. And in case I haven't said it yet, your photography is exquisite. You should really think of publishing your site in book form
  • #2
  • Comment by Bine
Is that a Forst beer I see in the first photo? Oh, I HAVE to go to Südtirol again soon. Thanks for the Knödel recipe. I've always wanted to make some myself, but up to now I just didn't dare - yet thanks to your detailed desription and excellent photos I think I might give it a try...
  • #3
  • Answered by fx
Bine, the beer wasn't mine, I had a couple Holünderblüte / blackcurrant flower syrup that sent me straight to heaven.
  • #4
  • Answered by fx
Alan, thanks and let me know if you know a cookbook literary agent or publisher! In this article I'm using little off-camera strobes, they are great fun.
  • #5
  • Comment by MiniMooh
Great recipe, as always, looks very tempting. But I am a bit disappointed of your nationalistic undertone. I know, the germans are not very well liked in Switzerland, but I thought you would know better then that?! Besides - I had great Knödel in a restauarnt close to Leipzig, so your impression of german cooking may be a bit dated.
  • #6
  • Answered by fx
MiniMooh, but I love the Germans just as much as the Italians - and both are well liked in Switzerland. Nothing nationalistic, but I nearly choked many times on bad knödels in Germany and they are just better in Italy. I did all my interview with the chef in German, a language that I had to learn at school just like you would if you wanted to learn, say, Swedish. So I feel entitled to point out a comparison between the same dish on both sides of the border, both sides who speak the same language.
  • #7
  • Comment by Esterhase
So what happens to the dough when you leave it for a day or two?  Do they typically not refrigerate it?
  • #8
  • Comment by Ben
Beautifully done once again. However, could one use a food processor on the bread to get rough breadcrumbs instead of cutting them into cubes?
Nice article, I can't wait till my German Wife gets home tonight!
Oh honey, I'm craving knödels, again...
  • #10
  • Answered by fx
Dave, if she follows the recipe her knödels will take you straight to the valhalla!
  • #11
  • Answered by fx
Ben, no way to do this with a food processor, you'd end up with a pudding fit for hundred-year-olds to eat with a straw. The cutting into cubes is really fun and with a long serrated blade it's done in no time. Check the last scene from Kill Bill II to see how suspenseful that can be!
  • #12
  • Answered by fx
Esterhase, fresh eggs, milk and air is a fine breeding ground for bacterias. There are many, many microorganisms all over the kitchen, and some of them can kill you if they can multiply. Leaving such a dough in the fridge or, even better, outside in the kitchen, for a night or longer, might cause the Knödel to become a disease-infected sponge. If you fail to boil it long enough to bring the core temperature high enough, you'll serve your guest with a potentially lethal dose of nasty bacterias. Such is the risk when eating Knödels in the wrong place.

Are you a character from John Le Carré's novel Smiley's People? Same name!
I've had my fair share of cantine knödel since I moved to Munich, and I would say that bread knödel is mostly fine to eat without paramedics present. The potato versions can send you into a deep coma if you're not cautious.

I have had some great knödel in Munich, too, but I do suspect that the Italian version is regularly a bit lighter in taste. This one looks great with the spinach, I'll have to try it!
Excellent! I will definitely be making these - maybe tomorrow? We always have a yummy dinner on Friday nights because we used to go out, but after having a baby, we don't get to go out as much, so I usually just make something decadent on Friday.  
  • #15
  • Comment by Esterhase
I assumed refrigerated would be ok for a day or so, but unrefrigerated? That sounds like a new capital punishment method!And yes I am *the* Toby Esterhase - j/k :P  He and Smiley are my favorite two characters from that trilogy.
Hey Francois -- I made the Knoedels last night! Your recipe.  Very simple and delicious! And I'm sure I didn't do it perfectly, so I can only imagine how good they are when done right. My dough was really dry even after the eggs (I couldn't have formed balls, they wouldn't have stuck together), so I added a pinch more milk, then even a pinch more egg because I didn't want to add too much milk. Hard to know if they were right or not, since I've never had them before. But I think it worked well. The held together well, very delicate and tender, but did not fall apart. Oh, you know what ever, I lightly toasted fresh bread, I didn't use the stale. I forgot that your post said only stale bread. So, I'll make sure next time it's stale. We'll see if that makes a difference. I like also the idea of adding liver! Do you just add it like you did the spinach? I have some liver pate and I wonder how it would taste to melt that in?
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
Traci, thanks for trying this and congratulations on your result! You are absolutely right with the liver, it is one of the four canonical Knödels in Südtyrol in fact. Mr Pinkowski indicated 100ml liquid for 500gr bread and I also had to ask more. He is playing with his cards close to the jacket, maybe there should be more liquid...
  • #18
  • Answered by fx
Toby Esterhasy, you did a good job with Grigoriev, I guess he won't need too many knödels to have a heart attack!
  • #19
  • Answered by fx
Daniel, let me know of your best knödel eating places in Munich. There is one I like right next to the cathedral, they do wicked Kaiserschmarren, but do they make the best knödel in town?
  • #20
  • Comment by Martin
On the food processor question, my father, a native of Munich, uses a meat slicer to cut loaves of stale bread into thin (5 mm or so) slices. He puts the slices in a large bowl, adds the wet ingredients, gives it a quick toss with his hands, and lets everything soak for a while (as above).

Using the slicer saves a lot of time, and doesn't seem to affect the end result. If the bread isn't really stale, he'll slice it in the morning and leave it for several hours (cut so thinly, it gets stale quickly).
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
Martin, this sounds like a nice trick to prepare lots of knödels! What does your father put inside to flavor them?
Hey FX,

I'm reviving this comment thread to tip you off about some Munich knödels, as requested. Since I'm mostly on a student budget, I can't really recommend any of the cities' pricier locations, but they tend to focus on non-Bavarian cooking anyway.

You mention a place next to the cathedral, might it be Augustiner am Dom? They serve good, typical Bavarian fare at reasonable prices. Another good spot in the city is the Ratskeller, a cavernous restaurant located underneat the Rathaus. Very good food, reasonable prices, and a large selection of wines. Geheimtipp: Lammhaxl. A third central location is the Weisses Brauhaus (located on Tal 17), which is very, very traditional. You can get all the Bavarian food you ever wanted here, and a lot that you never wanted (like the brain, or Saure Lunge). Affordable, and the service is typically Bavarian, i.e rude.

Last, but not least, Wirtshaus zur Brez'n on Leopoldstraße close to Münchner Freiheit is a very popular Bavarian restaurant. I had a Haxn with Kartoffelknödel there a couple of days ago, and the knödel was very good. Rather light and springy, not too sticky, and with good sauce absorption. They also have great schnitzels and cold platters. Recommended.
  • #23
  • Answered by fx
Daniel, I have to visit those places next time I'm in town, thanks a lot for the tips! Once we had dinner at KüK Monarchie, very unique concept to say the least, pleasant people.
  • #24
  • Comment by Rosedarpam
I have been looking for a recipe for knoedel for many years.  I once had lebbenknoedel in Tokyo in the 1950's.  It was served with a delicate but savory consomme.  I intend to try your recipe and will also try to make a liver version. Thanks.
  • FX's answer→ Have fun with the Knödels!

  • #26
  • Comment by Lowell F
Intersting recipe.  My mother is Tyrolian (No. Alps between Austria and Italy) and she has made a similar dish since I was a child.  My Grandmother brought it here from the old country.  I'm 56 by the way.
Mother makes it a little differently.  She makes the baseball sized dumplings with the cubed bread, onion, parsley egg and a little milk. She adds small cubed salamy and even a little bacon.  Then she makes a soup broth for the dumplings.  Sure is good.
  • FX's answer→ Lowell, there are many, many recipes for canederli but none as good as one's mother's version!

  • #28
  • Comment by Daniela
I have to say, going by your rather bizarre take on German Knoedel, or Kloesse as they are known in many parts of Germany, you haven't got the faintest clue about them. Sure, you get horrifyingly bad ones wherever you go, but what nonesense to suggest Italian ones are better than German ones or vice versa. What they are is different. You get more different types of Knoedel in these countries than you can shake a stick at. And if you really want to find out more about Knoedel, the place you have to go to is Austria, where they make so many different varieties that the German or Italian versions simply can't keep up. And indeed, you use flower to make certain types, although never in vast quantities if you want to keep them light. Plus you get ones made with potato, others with ricotta-type cheese (called Topfen), some with buckwheat, some filled with fruit, others with cheese or meat, some are made with freshwater fish, and some are made with stale or dried bread, combined with all sorts of other ingredients. What I'm trying to tell you is that it's pure nonesense to make blanket statements about them as per your website.
  • FX's answer→ I'll make sure to give Germanic knoedel another go then!

  • #30
  • Comment by richiek
I agree wholeheartedly with Daniela's comments. I have had German knoedel probably hundreds of times--most are good, some are not so good, but overall have had an amazing variety of knoedel.  Actually my favorite ones I have had have been in Baden-Wuertemberg!
  • #31
  • Comment by roxana

Un enorme placer encontrarme con tu enfoque,soy una cocinera más que experta, y aprecio tu capacidad didáctica,tu manera de presentar las recetas y sobre todo la sensibilidad, y ese pequeńo toque de humor, viví en alemania unos cuantos ańos, espero recibir más delicias tuyas,toda mi gratitud, en la cocina uno no deja de aprender,de sorprenderse, y de repartirse,
roxana
  • FX's answer→ Hola Roxana, estoy muy contento de ler tus commentarios. Gracias!

  • #33
  • Comment by Frans
Personally, I think if you have consulted Hans Peter Pinkowski, a German-born chef, trained in Österreich and working in Südtyrol, your editorial comments about the battle of the knödel/klöße v. the canederli are sound . . . but please don't write off all the knödel/klöße just yet. For example, you asked where to find good knödel in München. I certainly agree with all of Daniel's suggestions, but I'd have to say my favourite is Wirtshaus zum Straubinger @ 5 Blumenstraße, just off the ever so amazing Viktualienmarkt. Small & friendly, not touristy at all; & most of all, a great Bavarian resto.

In the meantime, I always have this debate with my wife . . . where in the world is the best dumpling?
  • FX's answer→ Frans, thanks a lot for your advice about restaurants in Munich, I only know two, KüK Monarchie (if it still exists) and the Nürnberger Bratwurst Glöckl am Dom, where I have Kaiserschmarren. As you can see, not much to go by and I will gladly try the one close to the Viktualienmarkt.

  • #35
  • Comment by Siri Gottlieb
I just discovered this knoedel article and fell over laughing. It's so funny and clever. Can't wait to try them on my next enemy.

I see you haven't posted in a while ... I hope you are OK
Siri in Michigan USA
  • #36
  • Comment by mŞ dolores
 Esta receta la he buscado para llevarla al cole de mi hija ya que la suelo hacer muy amenudo. Yo la aconpańo con un asado de carne de cerdo y esa salsa se aconpańa con el knödel está delicioso.Esta comida la he aprendido de mi suegra que estuvo viviendo en alemania 15 ańos y cuando la hacía era un día de fiesta.(ella nos dejó hace 3 ańos).
  • FX's answer→ Me encanta que vas a probar esta receta para tu hija!

  • #38
  • Comment by John
FX cuisine is my favourite recipe site.  Knoedel reminded me of something my father used to make and I don't know what the name of it is.  Very simple.  Stale bread (pagnotta) olive oil, boiling water, oregano and parmesan cheese.  Have boiling water at hand. Fry garlic in some olive oil until soft.  Add torn/chopped bread pieces and stir for a few seconds, add boiling water and stir mixture until bread softens, add dried oregano and stir again before serving with grated parmesan cheese.  Simple but strangely flavoursome.  
Regards
John
  • #39
  • Comment by John-Christopher Ward
I hope you are well. I truely miss your photos and postings.
  • #40
  • Comment by Julian
hey francois
i've greatly enjoyed your site, and a lot of the recipes you post are delicious. i just tried your recipe for almond sorbet and found it sorely oversweetened but it made a good base for some weird margharitas. one thing i admire about your recipes and by extent about you is your unwillingness to confirm to any trends. because sometimes it just fucking makes me sick, all the weird shit people cook to be "fusion" or "ethnical" or whatever is the catchphrase of the moment.
anyway.
your duck ragu was brilliant. so was your garlic soup, although i took the time to simmer a lot of veal bones and vegetables in water before adding it to the garlic roux. unfortunately you often use ingredients that are a hassle to get.
nevertheless. i always loved cooking and it's nice to find a kindred spirit. keep up the good work.  
  • #41
  • Comment by Dr. Rob Case
Great article !

I was raised in Switzerland and the South Tirol. Your article and pictures brought back many wonderful memories ( minus all the onions I used to chop every day ).

Keep up the good work !

Cheers,

Rob



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