When I would come home from college during my freshmen year, I tried to visit my Great Grandma Filler in the nursing home as often as I could. That woman. Describing her as amazing isn’t doing her justice. Sometimes, she would talk about when she was a little girl (she could tell me about the dirt on the floor and I would be just as intrigued). There were few trees on the plains when her family (early pioneers) settled in North Dakota, so they frequently used cow pies, or patties (not sure which term she used), as fuel for heating, cooking, and baking. One of her jobs was to collect them. According to her, cow pies made the best fuel for baking bread. I’ll take her word for it. Grandma went on to explain that all of their meals – as a child, mother, and grandmother – always included a flour dough, potatoes, fresh meat or canned chicken, canned fruit and vegetables, and perhaps even bread. Yes, people ate a LOT of carbs. These were items they almost always had on hand. They were inexpensive, they filled their bellies, and provided necessary energy to complete the daily chores. What I’d do to hear her tell me these stories again…
Knoephla was one of the products my great grandma’s family made from a flour dough. It was used in many ways: in soups, with cream and onions, a pocket for cheese (kase knoephla – we’ll get to that recipe later), or in a hotdish with potatoes, homemade sauerkraut, and perhaps sausage. Here’s a delicious way to use knoephla in a hotdish – with bacon and cream. Heaven. Truly. I will say, this is NOT a fast recipe. There are many steps, but my friends…it is well worth it. Promise. Here’s how it’s made.
In a large skillet, add bacon, onion, and black pepper.
Cook until onions are browned and bacon is on the crispy side. It will soften in the dish. Remove bacon and onion, place in a crockpot or baking dish. Reserve at least 2-3 Tbsp. of bacon drippings – just keep in the pan.
To the skillet, add vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir for a minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
When you begin cooking the bacon, start your potatoes. Cook cubed potatoes in a large pot of simmering/boiling water until soft. Drain.
Place cooked potatoes in crockpot or baking dish. Pour vinegar mixture over the top. Stir in sauerkraut. Cover.
To make the knoephla, beat eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in milk, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add flour until you’ve made a stiff dough. Cut off tennis ball size pieces and roll into ropes on a floured surface. Continue until all the dough has been used.
Using a scissors or a pizza cutter, cut the ropes into small pieces. (This picture gives me goosebumps. For some reason, when I see it, I can almost feel myself working along side my German grandma and great grandma in their kitchens).
Place knoephla carefully into a large pot (the same one you used for the potatoes…one less pot to clean) of boiling water. Stir them around a bit so they don’t stick together. Let simmer or boil for 5-8 minutes. Drain and dump them into the crockpot or baking dish. Almost there!
Once knoephla are drained and in your choice of baking ware – crockpot or baking dish, add desired amount of cream, salt (if needed), and pepper. I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t shy away from the cream. I probably use an entire pint. Now, if you want to eat this right away (by now you’ve already pecked away, like an 1/8 of it), go the baking dish route and throw it in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this in my crockpot. I’ll make it up in the morning and let all the flavors come together (on warm) until dinner/supper. This is a fun dish to serve right out of the crockpot, buffet style, when friends and family gather. I’ve made it for our family at my kids’ birthday parties – always a hit. If there’s any left, it make fantastic left overs. Now go…and be German.
*I have also subbed bacon with our homemade venison ring sausage. It turns out just as great. But, you will need to add a little oil or butter to a skillet (2-3 Tbsp.), before making the vinegar mixture, since there won’t be any bacon fat.
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Affiliate, I get a small kick-back if you buy from my links. That helps support this blog, at no extra cost to you.
- 1 pound bacon diced
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 7-8 potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 pint or more sauerkraut mostly drained
- 1/4 c. vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- black pepper to taste
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. milk
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- all purpose flour
- 1-2 c. cream
- In a large skillet, fry bacon, onion, and black pepper until bacon is fairly crisp and onion is caramelized. Remove them from the skillet and place in a crockpot or baking dish. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the bacon fat (just keep it in the skillet). Bring the heat up to medium to med-high. Add vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir constantly for a minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large pot, add potatoes. Boil until soft (I start the potatoes while my bacon is frying). Drain and add potatoes to crockpot or baking dish. Pour vinegar mixture from skillet over potatoes. Stir in sauerkraut.
- To make the knoephla, beat 2 eggs in a large bowl. Add milk, salt, and baking powder. Whisk together. Gradually add flour until you’ve made a stiff dough. Cut tennis ball pieces off of dough. Form ropes (see above picture) on floured surface until all the dough has been used. Cut with a scissors or pizza cutter to make small pieces. Add the pieces, knoephla, to a boiling pot of water, stirring so they do not stick together. Let simmer for about 5-8 minutes. Drain and place knoephla into the crockpot or baking dish.
- Add cream, salt, and pepper to taste.
- If using a baking dish, cover and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through. Or if you want to start it early and eat later, use a crockpot, set on warm.
- *bacon can be swapped out for ring sausage, but you’ll need to add a little butter or oil to start the vinegar mixture.