This time we had to make dumplings! When we travel we like not only to visit the places and appreciate the local artistic, historical and naturalistic beauties, but also to try the deep emotion of having experiences that in our memory will then be inextricably linked to that particular moment.
In Sicily, for example, we ventured to create marzipan sweets called Frutta di Martorana, while in South Tyrol we accepted with enthusiasm the proposal of our host Paula of Funtnatscherhof Maso to prepare with her the dumplings, in German called knödel.
Knödel, a typical dish from South Tyrol
Let’s start by saying that the dumplings, one of the typical dishes of the peasant gastronomic tradition of South Tyrol, are prepared in many variations! Paula explained to us, showing us the ingredients that we would use to prepare them, that each family has its own recipe with its own doses that are most often determined by eye.
There are, therefore, many types of dumplings: spinach, cheese, speck, liver, turnips, mushrooms. In fact the ingredients of these fantastic giant bread dumplings follow the seasonality but also the gastronomic traditions that change moving from valley to valley.
It also changes the way they serve them. Until now we had tasted them only in broth, while those that we prepared with Paula in the cheese version, and which we then enjoyed for lunch with the whole family, are defined dry and are seasoned with melted butter and grated cheese. However, the same rule applies to everyone: they are never cut with a knife only with a fork or spoon.
But before bringing them steaming to the table we had to make them!
After browning the onion in butter with the addition of a little flour and having beaten the eggs in the milk, Paula placed the ingredients in a large bowl and began to mix them with great care.
You have to create a mixture with the stale bread in cubes, the cubes cheese, the parsley, the eggs with the milk, the onion browned in butter and flour, salt and pepper – she said pointing out that for a dose of half kilo of bread six eggs are needed.
Then it was my turn: after having wet my hands in cold water, she taught me to form the dumplings which are then left to rest on a tray and then to cook in salted boiling water for 5-10 minutes.
The dough of the dumplings must always be fairly porous, so it is important that it is neither too dry nor, on the contrary, too soft.
But it is the most delicate phase of cooking – Paula warned us – because it is not always easy to cook them at the right point. If the dumplings of stale bread cook too much or too little, they may remain too hard or flake, so it is important for beginners like us to try: to be sure that the dumplings are cooked at the right point, better take one, put it on a plate and divide it in half. If it is still a little raw, it will be necessary to continue cooking the others for 2 or 3 minutes more.
Once cooked, they are brought hot to the table and then on the plate they are seasoned with the butter called hazelnut, with the color and the delicious aroma it takes after melting it in a small pan, the cheese and the chives.
Isolde, Paula’s daughter who attends the hotel school, took care of the dishing and decoration, and the result was truly magnificent! Then we all sat around the table in the kitchen and conversed amiably, overcoming the difficulties of the language and enjoying our dumplings, proud of the result that looking at the now empty cup must have been satisfactory for everyone. So first time: get promoted!
In collaboration with Gallo Rosso Agriturismo in South Tyrol