Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Zwiebel Schweinebraten mit Kartoffel Knoedel - or, Pork Roast with Carmelized Onions and Potato Dumplings

Can you say that?   I'll help you out-- say "Zweebel". Yeah, that's it!  That means onion.  You are looking at my all time, very favorite, sweet childhood memories of a dish my mother used to make for her kids.  I have two brothers, who-- to this day-- can't get enough of my mother's Austrian Goulash with Bavarian Bread Dumplings.  But, for me, my all-time favorite is Kartoffel Knoedel.  I just love these!  They are also called Kartoffel (potato) Kloesse-- but, I'll stick to my mother's deep Bavarian roots and I call them "knoedel".  It's a tongue twister, if you don't speak German.  Never mind!  I love to eat these unique "dumplings" with a roasted pork roast and a gravy.   I made this dish in early December, and I kept procrastinating posting this. The truth is, I cooked simply by instinct.  I didn't measure a thing, and I wasn't sure I could explain how to make this. It's so simple, to me, but then again-- I grew up with this dish, and I've made it many times.  I had used half of a boneless pork shoulder roast, when I made Transylvanian Goulash.  Ideally, I like to make this with a pork loin roast.  However, I improvised and made this meal in about an hour, using the other half of the pork loin roast-- let me show you how:

Bring the pork to room temperature (about 30-60 minutes).  Thinly sliced two large onions and drizzle a little bit of olive oil-- gently combine to distribute the oil, evenly. Preheat the oven to 425F. If your oven runs really hot-- then preheat to 375F. Season the pork roast with kosher salt & pepper. If desired, use about 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds-- I didn't, this time, since my husband isn't crazy about them.

In an oven-proof skillet (or a Dutch oven), add just enough olive oil to coat the pan. Crank the heat up and wait for the oil to shimmer-- and just start to smoke. Go for it!  Without moving the roast, sear each side until golden brown-- about 5 minutes per side.  Splatter shields are very useful, because it does make a bit of a mess-- but it's worth the flavor. The gravy has so much flavor, this way!  Once the roast is evenly seared, add the onion all around the roast-- and put it into the oven (uncovered) until it reaches between 145-150F (the roast will continue to cook.)  Depending on the size of your roast, this can take an average of 40 minutes. A thermometer is invaluable, so you don't cook the pork to death-- and it's turns out dry.  I prefer my pork slightly pink, contrary to my mother's generation that believed you had to cook it to death! So there!

Remove the roast, loosely cover with foil and set aside.  With a slotted spoon, remove the onion and set that aside.

I sometimes wish I had doubled the onion-- I love caramelized onion.

I keep at least one box of quality beef stock on hand. I like this brand, but if you have homemade beef stock-- I'm jealous!  I need to make time to make my own, but this will do.  I used about 6 oz. of beef stock, and simply deglazed the pan with this.  No wine, this time-- I wanted a simply pan sauce, and this one is it.  Now, about those potato dumplings-- my mother always used this box of mix.  My mother used to sell this mix at her deli-- it's made by Panni.  I found it at my local grocery store and it cost  between $5-$6.00 a box.   Some of the ingredients got me to thinking that I'd sure like to find out how to make this from scratch! I scoured the internet but I didn't find a recipe that sounded right. So, for now, I stuck with what I knew:

The powdered mix is simply whisked into water and in about 15 minutes, it's very thick.  This is not rocket science...

I used an ice cream scoop to help the dumplings to be even-sized. One thing my mother used to do-- but I never liked it-- is to cut 1-2 slices of toast into small pieces and to stuff them in the middle.  I could never bond with that, but go ahead and try it.  More power to you! My husband wouldn't know the difference, because he had never tried these before.

20 minutes later...

How do I describe these?  The texture is soft... gummy (from the potato starch) and they don't pack a ton of flavor.  So, are you wondering why I love these so much?'s the sauce.  It's the art of knowing how to eat this-- cut it in half, then into a few more bite-sized pieces.  Dunk it in the sauce... oh,  I want my mommy!  I just love these!  I would have loved some caraway in this, but-- maybe next time. 

There's a rhythm to enjoying this dish-- a bite of pork, with some onion wrapped around it-- a bite of dumpling and gravy-- then a bite of Bavarian Red Cabbage.  My husband really liked this dish, and it's so easy!  Sometimes, my mother would make this pork roast and she served her German Potato Salad (still warm-- not hot-- because it was freshly made).  She'd pour a little gravy over the potato salad-- heaven!  My brother's loved this even more.

I need to pick up another pork loin roast, so I can make this again.  If anyone has a tried & true recipe for making the potato dumplings-- please let me know!  The recipes I saw didn't make sense-- most talked about boiling cooked mashed potatoes, and that doesn't sound right.  Somehow, I think I need to use raw or par-boiled potatoes and to rice them.   I'd love to break free of buying a mix!

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Guten appetit!

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Claire ( said...

looks delicious! I've never cooked pork, I"m always scared I'm going to make it too dry but this looks amazing

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

This is all new to me. Looks tasty!

Bellini Valli said...

This has to be at the top of the comfort food list. We need foods like this.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

German comfort food - just great and your potato dumplings are perfect.

Susan said...

Himmel, bimmel!!! Schweinebraten mit Knoedel. Lecher! I have so been waiting for this. Remember this from childhood but did not know how mom made it. As for the Knoedel, I so remember eating them while living in Germany. I also remember trying the box many years ago. Also remember my mother telling me it is very hard to make the raw potato dumplings because they easily turn into rubber balls. I do have her recipe which is a combo of cooked potatoes and raw potatoes. Will share with you for your opinion. Thanks. Can't wait until this is on MY table. Schmeck gut!!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I must say these photos have sent me to culinary heaven! I love when you prepare these traditional Bavarian dishes!

Cathy said...

Your pork roast and caramelized onions looks fantastic. I've seen the package of potato dumpling mix at the German deli but have never tried it. I'm looking for a first rate recipe too so will let you know if I find one.

Susan - I hope you share your recipe with all of us. I would love to try it too.

Kim said...

What a wonderful family recipe. It sounds absolutely delicious and comforting.

Karen said...

This looks like a wonderful meal. I'd love to try it! Thanks for the translation ;)

Mary said...

This looks fabulous. I make mine with spatzle. I'll have to try your dumplins.

Chiara "Kika" Assi said...

This reminds me of some great meals I've had in the Dolomites on the Italy/Austria border... I love potato knodel... I actually love all kinds of knodels!

mattie said...

You know I love these German recipes. The first German dish my MIL made for me was Zwiebelkuchen. Yumm. I have made dumplings from the mix and they are okay, but I love my mother's recipe which I'll HUMBLY post here (I'm really so not worthy to share a recipe with you!)

8 medium potatoes
½ c all purpose flour
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tbs. minced onion
2 tbs. butter
1 slice bread, cut into small cubes

Steam unpeeled potatoes until tender. Peel and force thru a ricer onto a platter. Let stand over night, uncovered. Add salt, flour and eggs; mix well. Brown onion in butter add bread cubes and brown. Flatten a spoonful of potato mixture in your hand and put a few cubes of bread on dumpling. Roll into a ball roughly between a tennis ball and golf ball. Drop into large kettle of boiling salted water. Boil until they rise to the top and are heated through.

Thanks for the Pork Roast recipe. Can't wait to try it with your Potato Salad recipe.

Monica H said...

I want to come to your house- this looks amazing!

I love how food can transport you to another time. I'm glad you had your moment with mommy today.

Donna-FFW said...

My husband loves those dumplings. His mom taught me how to make them from scratch, I make them 1-2 times a year with sauerbraten. Delicious, delicious post!

TKW said...

Dear Debby,

Will you marry me?

TKW's Dad

Ingrid said... want your mommy! I'll take a plate full though easy on the onions. :)

Happy Friday!

Trish said...

That looks simply delicious! Being German background....I can so relate to this type of meal!

Cristie said...

Love your heritage and how you bring it into your cooking! I have a neighbor that is a wonderful German cook. I'll see if she has a recipe for potatoe dumplings, I know she makes them. I loved the looks of your onions!

Jen_from_NJ said...

This looks terrific! One of favorites!

bella said...

You have the most interesting recipes. My hubbie is German and after visiting a German alpine village and enjoying the cuisine, I'm certain that we both would love this! Thanks Debby, Roz

Ciao Chow Linda said...

This meal looks wonderful and those dumplings are similar to a Northern Italian dumpling called canederli - sometimes served in soups with other things mixed in, like herbs or parmesan cheese or even speck, the prosciutto-like air cured meat.

eekkada said...

OMG! I'm so making this for dinner tonight. I was just telling my husband how this was my favorite meal when I was little and lived in Germany. I think the potato balls are my favorite part, and I always wondered why there was bread in the middle lol. Thank you for posting this recIpe

Ursula Montejo said...

Hi my name is Ursula born and raised in Nuernberg . My Mutti told me the bread inside the kniedla,as we call them in Nbg., actually helps them cook quicker from within. It makes them rise more quickly which indicates that they're done. Enjoy! Und guten appetit .

CougarCooking said...

I was taught this almost exact recipe from my former Mutti in law. Haha.
She was taught by her mother in law too. They were from Hamburg.
Northern cuisine is very different from Bavaria, which is where my daughter lives now.
She used to work in the kitchen and restaurant for Dalmayr, a very high end, 2 Michelin star restaurant, coffee house, deli, bar
and gift shop in Munich that is over 300 years old. She learned this from me too.
In the north, they made it with beef onion and bacon.
Served with the potato balls, and yes I use the same mix with water.
The sauce, (gravy to us) is thickened with a little flour (slurry) and right at the
end the caramelized onions and bacon with all it's fat glory, is added.
We too eat it with sweet and sour hot red cabbage. That's another easy one to make.
Thanks for sharing, I can't wait to try it with pork. Sounds better to me than the beef.