Saturday, January 22, 2011

Smooth Potato Dumplings--My Potato Crush

Two anecdotes come to my mind when I think about this dish. Not so long ago, at a party, I was having a conversation with a nice lady when the subject drifted toward food. "Oh, I love food" she declared at one moment. Since the conversation took a very interesting turn for me and could lead to an exchange of original recipes, I quickly admitted "I love food too". Then the lady looked at me with amusement "You love food? I love food!!!" she said exposing her curvy silhouette. "I have 20 cookbooks, I cook and I eat" she continued. "Well, I also have 20 cookbooks, I cook, and eat" I said "and I write a food blog". My last argument made her curious and she promised to check out my blog. Recently, again at a party, some hugged me and feeling my body asked "I know that you cook, but do you eat?"

These conversations were rather funny and flattering, since I cook and I really eat what I cook. And these potato dumplings are the best proof. I am probably going to sound totally uncivilized confessing that, but I usually eat about ten of them at once. I love their smoothness and a sort of gummy texture and absolutely cannot resist them, especially if they drip with dark and spicy sauces.

They are called Silesian dumplings and the recipe originally comes from Silesia. And since Silesia has been influenced by Czech, German, and Polish culinary traditions, I guess there must be different variations of them all over Central Europe. Beside their taste I also love how easy they are to make: only two ingredients are required.

Potato dumplings taste best with meat (veal or beef) sauces, and taste particularly well with beef roulades--this recipe will appear in the next post--and accompanied by side dishes made of beets or red cabbage.

Smooth Potato Dumplings
(Serves four)

2 lbs potatoes,
about a cup of potato starch (corn starch can be a substitute).

1. Cook peeled potatoes with salt, drain them, and cool completely.
2. Smash them into a puree using potato presser.
3. Transfer the puree onto a large cutting board or plate and form a flat disk.
4. Divide the disk into quarters, and remove one of them. Fill up the remaining empty quarter with potato starch--see picture.

5. Put all potatoes in a bowl together with starch and quickly make a dough.
6. Dust your hands with starch and form smalls balls by rolling the dough--about 2 inches in diameter, finishing each one with a small dot inside.

7. Boil water in a large pot with a tbsp of salt. Throw the dumplings in and cook them for about 3 minutes from the time they rise to the top.
8. Drain them on a colander and transfer to a serving platter.

Always serve with meat sauces.