Friday, January 28, 2011

So what is Kartoffelklösse?

The Things Grandma Used
To make my grandmothers "Kartoffelklösse" (potato dumplings) you're going to need some tools. A large canning pot is a necessity for boiling water. A potato peeler to peel the potatoes. A grater with a very fine grating surface to grate 2/3 of the potatoes, a potato masher to mash 1/3 of the potatoes, a very finely woven cloth flour sack to squeeze the water out of grated potatoes. Some buttered croutons for placing in the center of the dumpling (3 croutons per dumpling is the magic number) and many more for snacking on.
Once you have these tools together you're going to need some meat to serve with them. Generally you have only four choices; pork roast (best choice), sauerbraten, rouladen or turkey to make gravy for the Kartoffelklösse. No canned or jar gravies allowed here. There is no recipe here just 2/3 to 1/3rd.
I can assume that you don't have any heavy-duty flour sacks lying around the house, so you will need to find someone who can sew, go to a fabric store and buy some canvas. You make the bag out of the canvas that is about 1 foot wide by 1-1/2 feet deep. The seams must be triple stitched to withstand the pressure when squeezing the liquid out of the grated potatoes, leaving you with the dry potato pulp. In Germany you can buy a ready made Kloßsack or find a machine called a "Thüringer Kloßpresse"..
Before I go on with this story you will need some history. My grandfather and grandmother immigrated from Germany in the 1920's. They lived in a two bedroom, one bath apartment with a very tiny kitchen that was about 12'x5'. The wooden porch adjacent to he back kitchen door made a great cooler in the winter months. In our family these cold winter months were considered Kartoffelklösse time. Grandma's sink and countertop literally had no workspace. The kitchen table, a two top, was incredibly small but made a nice prep area. My grandma had an ingenious method of dealing with the massive pileup of dishes, glassware, pots and pans. The dirty ones were secreted behind the bathtub shower curtain to be dealt with later. The fact that she had arthritis made these dinners even more astonishing. Normally grandma would make enough Kartoffelklösse so that we could each have two, or three. This would generally leave about a half dozen to take home to slice and fry in butter for breakfast.
For the men there was one job that only they could do. That job was to squeeze all of the water out of the grated potatoes in the sack. When finished the potatoes formed a dry pulp ball. It had to be so dry that your hands felt like they had flour on them.   
Still interested? Stay tuned.

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