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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kartoffel Kloesse (German Potato Dumplings)

So, I tried making some potato dumplings.

And failed.

But, these culinary spatterings can not just be positive successes, after all.

I used the recipe from one of my previous posts and didn't change too much.  And nothing too important, I don't think.

To be fair, I guess it wasn't truly a failure.
My wife loved them... and they were still quite delicious.

However, I don't think they had the correct structure or texture.  For one thing they were significantly moister than I think they were supposed to be.  I used the correct amount of flour and breadcrumbs, and approximately the same amount of potato... but they were still pretty wet.  If I had to guess, I'd say that was because I used some leftover mashed potatoes which had had some milk in them...  but it shouldn't have accounted for that much.

Anyway, here's what I did, and I'll recount some thoughts about what I think I could have done differently, afterwards.

I chopped up some garlic and onion, and a small chunk of pancetta di parma, and sauteed them in a little bit of oil, because I never like putting raw ingredients in without softening them a little (and diffusing their flavours into the oil as well, which helps even distribution).

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I added all that into the mashed potato mixture, and whipped it up with a wooden spoon.  It didn't seem overly moist at this time...

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Next I mixed in the flour, bread crumbs, and salt.

The mixture was very gummy and sticky at this point.  The recipe called for adding more bread crumbs if the mixture was still too wet.  So I did.  I added a ton.  Much more than the recipe called for.  I added so much more that I was legitimately worried about overcompensating the potato.  But it was still a little moist.  And I hadn't even added the eggs yet.

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At this point I kind of knew it wasn't going to turn out the way a dumpling should, and I just gave in to the notion of creating something a little different.

One of the things I am good at still, is improvising, and there were a couple of late-revisions I tacked on to the recipe procedure to compensate.  For one, I fried them in a little oil to crisp the outsides, and on medium -low heat which was time-consuming, but helped dry the middles a little.  

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Secondly - and as soon as I knew there would be moist-middles in these suckers - I turned on my oven to 350 degrees.  After frying the potato cakes in batches, I transferred them to a large casserole dish and intentionally left them uncovered in the oven so as to "dry" them out a bit.

It worked a little.

However, all told, what I ended up with were MUCH more like potato cakes than potato dumplings in my opinion.

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They were still quite delicious, actually, and I served them with two ramekins of condiments, one a 0% greek yogurt mixed with some fresh dill I had, and the other a spicy homemade ketchup I made.  They were very good, and extremely filling.  My wife LOVED them, and ate a substantial amount.  Myself, I fixated on the fact that the middle consistencies were still suspiciously similar to mashed potatoes.

Oh well.

Here's what I think I did wrong, and what I would do differently if I were to try this recipe again:

  1. Should not have used previously-mashed potatoes.  These had some milk and butter in them from before, and likely added some extra moisture that I wasn't quite prepared to soak up with excessive flour and bread crumbs.
  2. Should have dried the boiled potatoes on some paper towels, like the recipe calls for, before mashing.  I'm still not too convinced exactly how much moisture this will shore up, but my opinion now is that every little bit counts.
  3. Do not use the full complement of eggs.  I understand that the eggs add some fluffy airiness to the mixture, essentially providing a leavening agent, but they also represented a significant amount of wet ingredient.
  4. I think I might use potato flour, and use that significantly more than the flour/bread crumbs.  The bread crumbs are still necessary for this recipe, but using too much of these two dry ingredients really changed the flavour.  Potato flour will likely perform the same function, but not change the flavour from potato-y to bread-y.
  5. There's a trick I learned from making potato pancakes, wherein you can remove the juice of the potato, let it stand until it separates, at which point you pour off the top (mostly water) and then re-add the starch which has settled at the bottom.  This drastically reduces the moisture of the mixture, and I think I might try that...
  6. I chose not to boil them in water, instead frying them in oil.  Perhaps I should not have... or perhaps I should have done both.  Boiling in water would seriously increase the internal temperature in a way that pan-frying would not.  If I want the crispy-outside, I could always fry them a little bit after boiling.

That's basically it... I guess I shouldn't call this endeavour a failure but they certainly did not end up being dumplings.  Like I said, these were much more like potato cakes.

I'm not saddened, however, as they were still 100% delicious.  And I've learned some new things, such that a second attempt would turn out that much more successful.


  1. They WERE delicious, but I love the idea of using potato flour and less breadcrumbs.

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