It’s a ‘sit by a roaring fire, read a good book, enjoy good meal’ kind of day at our house today. Spring was in the air yesterday and after some necessary tasks we sat out on the deck and loaded up on some much needed vitamin D. Today though the skies have clouded over and the rain began to fall. I understand that it’s the way the world feeds the earth below it, nourishing it, but rather than energize me it always seems to make me wilt just a little, the dreariness of it, the dampness of it. It reminds of me camping and laying in the trailer listening to the drip drop of rain on the roof. It reminds me of naps and makes me think of lost days.
This rainy day I’m not hiding from the rain in a trailer but wandering around the house needing to cook something that will comfort me, take me home, bring back memories of a different kind of lost days.
This meal was one I grew up with back in the days before carbs were my nemesis; they were simply nourishment and comfort. This was one of our favorite meals. It’s heaviness indicative of the food my parents and grandparents ate back in the Czech Republic. You can still get this meal at many of the restaurants and people still enjoy it, it is filling and heavy and flavorful. It is a meal that is synonymous with Czech people.
I’m guessing that the dumplings or knedliky were a homemade substitution for bread when people had far less access to fresh bread or potatoes on a consistent bases… but truly … that’s an claim that isn’t drawn from any actual history… Really I’m making up and it makes sense to me. If anyone knows the history by all means…. Please drop me a comment and help to enlighten me. I’m not and have never claimed to be a history buff regardless of how much I feel it would be helpful and useful.
The knedliky are delicious and pillowy and an absolute dream when used as a vehicle for a good hearty sauce. The Dill Sauce or Kôprová Omáčka is one I have always loved, creamy and bursting full of fresh dill, a little sourness from the vinegar…It’s flavour unlike anything else I’ve ever eaten. This distinctive flavour profile has been imprinted on me so deep I will never be able to escape. To this day regardless of how much I try to stay away from heavier foods I will never turn down this meal…. and sometimes, every so often… I’ll even make it.
So if you find yourself in Prague or another part of the Czech Republic on a dreary day and need some comfort indulge in this dish, you will not be disappointed. Or if you aren’t going to find yourself in that lovely European country anytime soon then make this at home, close your eyes and I swear you will feel transported.
Knedliky – Dumplings
- 3 Cups Flour
- 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 Egg
- 2 Cups Lukewarm Water
- 1Teaspoon Salt
- 1 day old Kaiser Bun (or other type)
Place flour, salt and baking powder in mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment and mix. Stop the mixer and create a well in the middle of the flour add the egg and about a ¼ cup of water. Mix on low speed to create a ball of dough adding water as needed. Slowly add water ensuring all the water is worked into the dough really well. Once you have a good soft ball of dough then pull the dough onto a work surface and knead in the chopped up bun. Day old buns work best, as they won’t fall apart when you work them into the dough. Ensure that the bread cubes are inside the dough; if they are outside they will get soggy as you boil the dough.
Form the dough into two even logs. Boil a large pot of water; I use a roasting pan so that the dumplings have enough room to expand. Boil the dumplings for 25 minutes in gently boiling water, turn half way through.
Once they are done, take them out gently and place on a cutting board. Some people have cut these with a knife but I was taught to use thread. You double up a white thread and slide it under the dumpling, criss-cross it over the top and pull through to cut through the dough. Cut through one after another with each of them about ¼ inch thick. Place in a bowl with paper towels under the lid so that the condensation doesn’t drip on the dumplings.
If you are not going to use them immediately steam to reheat. When steaming I put a paper towel under the lid so that the condensation doesn’t drip onto the them, as they really shouldn’t be wet.
Boil a beef roast in water with; bay leaves, carrots, celery, whole onion, peppercorns, and whole cloves of garlic in a soup pot and salt to taste. Boil the meat until it is tender then slice and reserve the broth for adding into the dill sauce.
Dill Sauce – Kôprová omáčka
- ¾ Cup Butter
- ½ Cup Flour
- 3 Cups Milk
- 2 large Ladles full of the Beef Broth
- ½ Cup Vinegar
- ¼ Cup Sugar
- One whole bunch of chopped Fresh Dill
In a saucepan melt the butter and then add the flour, cook on low heat for about 3 – 5 minutes, stirring often not letting the flour burn. Then add the milk (it’s best if you warm it up in the microwave a bit so you’re not adding cold milk). Stir and cook until thick. Mix the vinegar, sugar and dill in a separate bowl and add this to the saucepan once the milk mixture is thick. Add the two ladles full of the beef broth, salt to taste and serve over the sliced meat and dumplings.
If you are not eating this right away the sauce will thicken each time it is cooled. In order to loosen it up add either milk or some beef broth as you are heating it up, add just enough to get a nice gravy consistency.