Bacon dumplings (Knodel)

The ancient dish of bread and bacon dumplings known in the Tyrolese dialect as ‘knödel’ – or in Italian as ‘canederli’ - is synonomous with Tyrolese cooking, and in particular with the cuisine of the cities of Trento and Bolzano. It is famous for its creative use of stale bread and has its roots in peasant cuisine.

Ingredients (for 4 persons): 1 kg. of stale bread, ½ l. of milk, 40 gr. of flour, 2 l. of beef stock, ½ onion, pepper, salt, parsley, spring onion, 100 gr. parmesan, 3 eggs, 250 gr. of speck, 30 gr. of butter, 1 clove garlic.

Preparation: cut the stale bread into squares of about a centimetre in size and put into a bowl, add the beaten eggs, the milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands and allow to stand for about 30 minutes.
Sauté the chopped onion in butter in a non-stick pan, then add the speck (cut into small squares). Cook on low flame for about 2-3 minutes. Let cool, then mix the onion and speck into the bread mixture, adding the four, chopped parsley, grated cheese and garlic. Allow the mixture to stand for 30 minutes. Then roll out the mixture with wet hands and make balls of about 5-6 centimetres in diametre.
Prepare the stock and cook the knödel balls for about 20 minutes on a moderate flame making sure they do not break up during cooking.
Serve the knodel in their hot broth or drain and serve with a sauce of melted butter and sage. In either case sprinke with finely chopped spring onion.

Did you know?
In the chapel in the Castle of Appiano, one of the castles in the town of Appiano in Trentino Alto-Adige, one can find several romanesque frescoes depicting a woman eating knödel. Every year in Castelrotto, this year at the end of September 2007, a week is dedicated to the culinary art of making knödel.