My husband’s step-father is Czech, so Michael spent a number of years of his childhood in the what was then Czecholslovakia (now the Czech Republic). One of his favorite dishes growing up there was Czech potato dumplings. They are denser than the bread dumplings with which many westerners are familiar.
Years ago, Michael’s sister, Alice, taught me how to make them. The method we use today is roughly based on the recipe found at:
- 3 large, unpeeled baking potatoes (600 g); Russett potatoes are great for this recipe.
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup of Wondra flour (100 g)
- 1 cup of semolina flour
- pinch of salt
- Boil the potatoes with skins on until the skins just begin to crack open (approximately 40 minutes for big potatoes). Peel the potato skins off while the potatoes are hot.
- Shred the potatoes, add the egg and the yolk together with flour, semolina and salt.
- Knead it into a dough.
- Divide the dough into 3 parts and make three loaves (see photo below).
- Carefully put the 2 loaves into a pot of boiling water and make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Boil for about 15 minutes, using a spoon to turn/stir the loaves occasionally.
- Pull the loaves out of the water, slice them into circles and serve. Use regular sewing thread for the cutting process.
Clicking on any of the photos will bring up a larger image in another window, if you would like a better view.
Above I added the Wondra flour and the semolina flour. Then I began kneading the mixture. It’s gooey, messy and requires some upper body strength, but it’s fun.
I had extra moisture in my dough because of my large eggs and just-cooked potatoes, so I added some all-purpose flour to the mixture. I continued to knead the added flour into the dough ball.
The dough was still just a little on the sticky side, so I added a bit more Semolina flour. More kneading was necessary to incorporate the last bit of added flour.
It’s difficult to describe how the dough should feel when it’s ready. It should easily form a dense dough ball that doesn’t stick to a lightly floured wooden cutting board, but does have a very slightly sticky feel to the kneading fingers. Too much flour will produce dumplings that are overly dry in taste and texture.
Above I formed my potato dumpling dough into three loaves, each of which fit into my boiling pot. I was not able to fit all three in at once, but I was able to boil the first two smaller loaves together.
I added the two shorter loaves to a pot of water that I had at a rapid boil on the stove. Once the loaves were added, I made sure the water returned to a boil and used a slotted spoon to keep the dumplings from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once the pot had returned to a boil, I turned the heat down to maintain the boil while preventing the water from boiling over. I stirred the dumplings every few minutes for about fifteen minutes, until they were slightly “floaty”. I then removed them from the pot and drained off the excess water. I repeated the process with the last, larger loaf.
Shown above are the potato dumpling loaves after boiling. The two outside loaves were boiled first and have been cooling a while. The larger inside loaf just came out of the pot.
Czech potato dumplings are traditionally served with roast duck, roast goose or smoked meat and cabbage. However, Alice taught me to serve it with pork and chicken. I just use what is readily available in my local grocery store, because neither Michael nor I really care much for the meat anyway. What we are after are the flavorful juices produced by the meat and caraway seed combination. We drip the juices over the finished dumplings and the result is a delicious, filling meal in itself. The photos here show how I placed chicken thighs and pork chops sprinkled with salt and caraway seeds into an 8×8 inch pan. I added a little bit of water then covered it with aluminum foil. Meat prepared like this needs to bake in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees F for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half, until the meat is cooked through. In my experience, thin pork chops over-cook when getting the chicken cooked to a safe temperature, but Michael and I are basically only concerned about the juices anyway and we prefer the chicken meat with our dumplings. If having your pork meat cooked perfectly is important to you, you will want to adjust your pork cut selection and thickness to accommodate the required extra cooking time for the chicken.
Shown above I am slicing the potato dumplings with a piece of thread.
Above is the finished product. I did drizzle more of the meat pan juices over the dumplings before eating these dumplings. Delicious!