Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Devoted to Dumplings

Czech food isn’t for the faint of heart. While it has recently become lighter in fare and has more fruits and vegetables, traditionally the cuisine is hearty, heavy, and somewhat fatty – it’s meant to be filling after a hard day of work in the fields.

One of the Czech people’s most well-known foods is knedlíky, or dumplings. (How do you pronounce that?). The Czech Republic is the leading producer of pre-prepared dumplings, contributing to 95% of the world’s supply.

There are actually three types of dumplings. Houskové knedlíky (bread dumplings), which are wheat-based and are often served as a side dish alongside beef or pork with a thick sauce. The dumpling is cooked in cylindrical shapes and then cut into round slices, similar to our bread. They are sometimes made from stale bread rolls. Bramborové knedlíky (potato dumplings) are made much the same way, but are potato-based. They can often be served with duck. Ovocné knedlíky (sweet dumplings) are stuffed with fruit filling, like plums or apricots. In some areas, the fruits are coated with the dough and boiled, then served with butter and sugar. Fruit dumplings are often served as the main dish. Each region has its own special way of making dumplings. In the spa town of Karlovy Vary, the dough is made of left-over bread, egg and spices.

Houskové knedlíky (bread dumplings)
-2 eggs
-1/2 c. milk
-1 tsp. salt
-3 c. flour
-Pinch of baking powder
-4 slices white bread, cubed

1. Beat eggs, salt and milk in a large mixing bowl.
2. Sift flour with baking powder and add, gradually, to egg mixture.
3. Continue beating with a large spoon. The dough must be smooth and stiff enough to hold its shape.
4. Stir in bread cubes.
5. Shape dough with wet hands into an oblong roll (or make two rolls about 7" in length).
6. Have salted water boiling in a large kettle.
7. Drop in dumpling rolls.
8. Boil, covered, about 40 minutes.
9. Take out of water and slice with thread, to about 1/2" thickness.
10. Keep hot until ready to serve. Excellent with pot roast, roast beef, stew, etc.

-Heather Tinley, Opera Colorado Marketing Coordinator

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