Comfort Food on a Cold Day

Okay, so I may have missed Oktoberfest, but nonetheless…it’s time for a little sophisticated comfort food that screams heaven when spooned from a bowl nestled on the couch in fuzzy slippers and in away from the cold. It’s a little stroganoff flavored, a little meatball texture, it’s a comfort pot of wonderful that I could see served a good foodie gathering with a movie.

I found two recipes, a year apart, but felt the two complimented each other perfectly. The meatballs are tender, staunch enough on their own, but felt that the meal was a bit one sided. Ever the carb lover, these semmelknoedel speak to my dumpling need, and replace the noodles in the thousands of iterations of Eastern European pasta dishes (read: creamy noodles with mushroomy-beefy goodness) that I see.

This recipes serves in the four person range, but you can increase and decrease the number of meatballs and knoedel to adjust per person. I currently think a huge plate (sans extras and sides) is 2 semmeknoedel to 4 meatballs. I know some of you, and you know who you are, that aren’t caper or lemon juice fans – do not skip this here – it makes the dish.

German Meatballs in Mushroom Sauce by Shutterbean

For the Meatballs:

1 pound veal

1 small shallot, minced

zest of 1/2 a lemon

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Sauce:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, minced

2 cups mushrooms, cleaned

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 sprigs thyme, leaves only

3 cups chicken or beef stock

2 tablespoons Wondra or flour

1 heaping tablespoon capers

2 tablespoons heavy cream

salt and pepper, to taste

squeeze of fresh lemon juice, optional

1. First, get your meatballs ready. Combine all of the meatballs ingredients and form them into 1 tablespoon sized balls. Set aside.

2. Now, get your sauce going. Melt your butter in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Add in your minced shallot and cook over medium heat until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes, then add in the mushrooms. Cook for another 5 minutes, then add in the garlic and thyme, cook for 1 more minute, then add in the stock. Bring the stock to a boil, then add in the meatballs, carefully. Once the liquid has returned to a boil, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through.

3. After the meatballs are cooked through, add in the capers and cream, then stir to combine. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Semmelknoedel with Mushroom Sauce originally found on Design*Sponge

250 g (8.9 oz) dry white bread, cut in cubes

1 medium onion, finely chopped

50 g (1/3 cup) flour

250 ml (1 cup) milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 stems of flat parsley, coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon salt

olive oil

1. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Heat olive oil in a medium pan, add the onions and stir until they get soft and golden. Add the onions to the bread cubes.

2. Now do the same with the parsley. Then gently heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t let it boil!

3. Mix in the beaten egg and pour both over the bread mixture. Add the salt and the flour and knead it by hand until everything is mixed. If the mixture is too moist, add some flour; if it’s too dry, add some liquid.

4. Form seven small knoedel, put them in salted cooking water and let them simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Again, it’s a lot of work here forming the dumplings and stirring the sauce. It’s completely worth the detail work to get it done correctly. Invite a girlfriend over, pull your son up to the bowl – share this meal with someone special – make a memory – it’s the season to do so.

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