Swedish Potato Dumplings

Monday, September 24, 2007

There are many foods that I associate with my grandmother, whom my family lost recently, but none more than potato dumplings. I had these more at my grandparents’ house than at any other place, and we often made them on occasions when a lot of the family was together. I remember helping to make softball sized dumplings when I was little (or maybe they just seemed bigger back then). In my family they inspire the kind of affection only tradition can instill. Pictured are the better-the-next-day version – sliced and fried for breakfast.

Chop about one cup of onion and the same amount of diced bacon or pork. Peel and grate a 2.5 pound bag of potatoes. (There is no point making a small amount. To do this recipe justice you need to make at least a dozen. You want to use starchy, older potatoes.) Start a couple litres of water boiling in a stock pot or large dutch oven. Mix about three and a half cups of flour into the potatoes, or until they make a dough that somewhat holds together.

Form hand-sized patties of dumpling dough on a generously floured surface and put a tablespoon or more each of onion and meat on each patty. Generously shake pepper overtop (also salt if you are using pork and not bacon) and close dough around filling, making sure that none of the filling can leak out and there is no air inside. Your hands will be getting really sticky, and the dough will get wetter and stickier as it sits so you want to form the dumplings quickly and roll them in flour (add more flour if dough gets too soft to work with). Another reason to work quickly is that the flour does not prevent the potatoes from getting brown – this is why you want to chop everything, put the water on, and form and cook the dumplings as soon as possible.

Drop dumplings into boiling water, add a couple tablespoons of salt, wait til water returns to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for an hour. Gently pry dumplings apart if they are sticking together and eat with butter and salt while very fresh and tender, or slice and fry to eat for breakfast the next day with coffee.

The dumpling water is very starchy and flavourful - similar to the bowls of broth, noodle water or vegetable cooking water that 'family style' restaurants in China serve as a beverage - and my mom used to recycle it for soup.

14 comments:

Gusty said...

Hi-You may be pleased to know your site was the first blog I have ever read. My Norwegian mother made these dumplings, called Klub by her family, for my Swedish father. She used some graham flour for a different flavor. Mix 5 lbs grated raw potatoes, 1/2 c. graham flour and 3 c. or so all-purpose flour until firm, holding the shape and not sticky. Tuck a 1" piece of salt pork in each baseball sized dumpling and cook in a meat broth for 2 hrs. Serve the boiled beef on the side. Fry sliced leftovers for breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Your gramma would of been very proud of your dish. In her area, her climate etc, the potatoes have a higher starch content, therefore the shredded potatoes turned grey very fast. She always wanted to have her 'dumplings' as white as yours. Thank you. Your grampa is fine, still playing his music and cards. Love your site!!

Anonymous said...

In my Family, we call them PULT, it is a huge family tradition. We all get together and make these!

Shandelle said...

We love these! My Swedish grandmother called them "cumps". I don't know how it should be spelled. We put a small piece of meat inside (actually, fake meat since we're vegetarians). We eat them with butter and salt, and have applesauce on the side.

Anonymous said...

Krup Kocker – It’s not just a food… it’s an experience!
Our tradition for a family of nine with Swedish Gramma coming to oversee, started with all the older kids peeling potatoes. Dad started the arduous process of hand grating them, with us all taking turns. This was fraught with many a skinned and bleeding knuckle that Dad said “added to the flavoring” but turned most of our stomachs.
When the last of us finished peeling we moved to the colander/ricer/masher (honestly, I don’t know what its real name is) but it is made of tin and stands about 9 1/2 inches tall in its stand. It has a wooden pestle. You put the potato in this upside down cone with holes, the liquid pours through the holes in its side, into a pan you have placed below, you make the pestle squish the remaining liquid out from the potato and then place the dry potato in a bowl until all that is complete.

Usually Mom would be grinding the lean salt pork and mixing it with hamburger and allspice at the same time to make meatballs a little over 1" big. Usually the smaller kids helped with this.

When the potato mixture was all dry, and the starch had settled to the bottom of that pan, they took the dry potato, mixed it with some salt, eggs, and flour. The starch was reserved for the big (rolling) boiling pots of water on the stove which would hold all the precious graying snowball sized delicacies.

This now became a two person job. My father oversaw this. One would take the meatball, wrap it in the potato mixture, place it on the large wooden spoon he held and then he would gently lay it down making sure our precious Krup Kocker wouldn't stick to the bottom. He’d make sure it wasn’t boiling too much, - just a steady rolling boil. I always felt privileged to be the second in that team because we counted how many was made. More times than not we had more meatballs than Krup Kocker but that was okay because we loved them!

I think the most we ever made was 86 and I can tell you as kids we would have contests to see who could eat the most in one sitting. I think I did 4.5 when I was about 13. My younger brother had to make it to 5. We were dead to the world that night. A word or warning - do not drink water as it makes it expand! :-)

The anticipation the next morning of having more got you up early. The smell of these fried in butter (after slicing) had us all getting up early to make sure we all got our fair share!

Here is the kicker through. It is so much work we make it once a year. Like the quilting days of old when the women gathered to sit and talk around the table, these Krup Kockers, dumplings, pult, or whatever the correct terminology is, create tradition, family gatherings, shared stories, catching up and a bonafide occasion for all of us.

Tonight, I’ll be driving five hours and meeting with my brother again and our families will be carrying on this tradition starting early tomorrow morning. The rest of our siblings who live much further away will be a little bit envious when they hear of it. (I haven’t told them that I tried freezing our little Krup Kockers to make sure I can bring some home and there is no worse for the ware!)

Pepper said...

Wow, I am envious too. Have just been thinking about making these again....

dysprose said...

Wow so nice to see this recipe. My Swedish Nana made this and still my family makes to this day :D. We call it Crub/Krub. We always cook up a whole pot of sliced onions in butter (not healthy but yum) and fry up some bacon and have this with our Krub. And no doubt having it the next day sliced up and fried is the best treat ever (but usually there's never enough left :( ). One member of the family is not so fond of it and affectionatley has called the glue balls, so we call them that too :D. Eating this is like a warm hug and a real comfort food to me.

Anonymous said...

Now that we are grown up and live apart, my mother has made this dish an annual tradition that she makes on Groundhog Day (A hearty meal for the winter, our ancestors are Swedish, and she grew up in a near Punxutawny, PA). We do have slight variations. She uses half salt pork and half sirloin for the meat filling, and she frys extra meat to mix with cream of mushroom soup to use as a gravy.

angelhearted87 said...

My family also calls it Krub/Crub. My Grandmother used oatmeal. My mother is the only one in the family who will still make it. She grinds up the potatoes in an old fashioned meat grinder then adds the oatmeal and onion, makes them into softball sized balls and boils in one big pot of water to blanch and lessen up the starch, then transfers into another pot to finsh off the cooking. Put on a plate and serve with lots of butter. If there is any left over the next day they are cut up and fried with bacon and butter.

Anonymous said...

My family celebrates “Crub Fest” the weekend before thanksgiving every year. The amount of flour and potatoes seems to change from year to year, we never write down the amount but wait for the thumbs up from my 92 year old Grandmother. It’s a treat to see how new family members react to eating crubs, it’s a true test of love. We also slice and fry them with eggs the next day, and I agree they are much better. Thanks for the post, what a treat. I printed out your recipe to share with my family during this weekend’s crub fest.

Anonymous said...

We call it pult and the only thing that goes in the middle is suet, salt and pepper - (or bacon for those of us who dislike suet)
My mother's family was from northern Sweden and i have such good memories of that side of the family having pult together.
I'm craving it now... fried is definately best.
Canadian Eunice

Anonymous said...

My Norwegian grandmother called them klub or also kumla. It was grandpa's favorite...and I remember eating them on cold MN winter evenings.

Anonymous said...

I made some the other day with my kids. They were so good. Oh they were good.

Anonymous said...

Wow! My family made Pult every winter while we were growing up, and this is the first time i've ever heard of anyone other than our family speak of it. This is a treat for us, given to us by our lil Swedish Grandma Gerty. We love it best sliced and fried in butter the next morning. After it browns a bit add milk and cover so it thickens. A cast iron skillet works the best. We put only salt pork in the dumplings.