Surprisingly, other than dinner parties and a few special occasions, we don’t really cook that much for our friends. Sure there’s the occasional cookie or treat we love to share with co-workers and our roommates, but most of the cooking we do is generally for ourselves or each other. Recently, however, a dear friend of ours was reminiscing about his Swedish heritage and a particular boyhood favorite dish. “Kroppkakor,” he called it. Who? Have you ever heard of such a thing? Well we definitely have not, but our blank stares diminished and turned into equal shares of his enthusiasm after we understood several choice words in his explanation: “potato,” “dumpling,” “bacon!” He put in a special request for us to take a pass at making it, and we were more than happy to oblige. We can’t say no to bacon.
This dish was actually really fun to make, and it came out pretty tasty too. Kroppkakor (crop-cocker) is a Swedish potato dumpling stuffed with…well, whatever you want! Traditionally as we understand it, it’s usually stuffed with pork (bacon bacon bacon!), then smothered in a béchamel cream sauce–definitely something our Southern palates can understand. We didn’t have allspice on hand, which was an ingredient common in many recipes. No worries. We substituted pumpkin pie spice (ginger, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, etc.) which worked just fine. Eating the dumplings with lingonberries, though, is a must! It added such a wonderful flavor to the whole dish. If you are lucky to have one in your area, you can easily get lingonberry preserves from a simple trip to Ikea or Smart & Final, along with a number of higher end grocery stores or ethnic markets. Otherwise, cranberries would sub nicely.
To this day, Amir still cannot pronounce the name of the dish. Throughout the evening he kept calling it “krock-crapper,” or “crap-corker.” In spite of these name calling antics, our friend was more than pleased with the outcome. Upon his first bite, we knew we did a good deed after hearing a quiet “Mmmmm” and seeing a smile form. You’re welcome, Brian. Anytime!
(adapted from Anne’s Food
), yields 6-8 large dumplings
8-10 large potatoes
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for shaping dough
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for water
1/4 pound smoked ham
3 ounces pancetta
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1-1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
3 tablespoons butter
1 small shallot, diced
2 tablespoons flour
1 – 1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Kosher and pepper, to taste
1. Peel and cut potatoes into small pieces. Boil until soft, drain and set aside to cool completely and dry.
2. Mash potatoes with a masher or press through a strainer.
3. Meanwhile, dice the pancetta and ham and sauté with the onions in butter over medium to medium-high heat until lightly browned. Add allspice and set aside to cool completely.
4. Make the dough by adding the flour, egg, and salt in with the potatoes until it is well mixed and easy to handle. Add more flour if needed.
5. Dust hands and cooking top with plenty of flour. Roll dough into a long, sausage-like log shapes, and cut into 6-8 large pieces (depending on desired size of balls).
6. Shape each piece into smooth balls, about the size of a tennis ball, making a hole in the center with your thumb. Stuff with as much filling as you wish, close the hole, and reshape dough again so each ball is even. Then bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
7. As the water comes to a boil, make the sauce. Sauté the shallots and allspice in the butter over medium heat until onion becomes soft and slightly translucent, about 4 minutes. Add wine and let reduce slightly.
8. Stir in flour one tablespoon at a time, forming a thick paste. Slowly whisk in milk into paste until well mixed. Continue to stir over low heat until the cream sauce thickens. To thin the sauce, add more milk until desired consistency is reached. Salt and pepper to taste.
9. Drop a few dumplings at a time into the boiling water, and let cook for about 5 minutes on each side.
10. Remove from water and serve with béchamel sauce, melted butter, and/or lingonberry perserves (lingonsylt).
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