Traditional, yet versatile: Kaspressknödel
Many have heard of them and almost anyone who tries them loves them! A traditional dish from the Pinzgau region that is usually served in soups across ski and mountain huts: "Kaspressknödel" (Cheese Dumplings). Some, however, may not know that Kaspressknödel can be prepared in a large variety of ways.
My friend and work colleague Lilli and I — both passionate aficionados of delicious delicacies — have made it our mission to give every single variation a try. And because there’s no way for us to fit all of our creations into our own bellies, and since people’s tastes tend to vary, we invited a few friends over and decided to serve everyone a different Kaspressknödel variation. Bon appétit! Or as they say in Pinzgau: An Guat’n!
Kaspressknödel basic recipe:
For four persons
- 200 g “Semmelwürfel” or diced stale bread
- 250 g cheese (traditional Pinzgau “Bierkäse”)
- 30 g parsley
- 1 large onion
- 50 g butter
- 100 ml milk
- 3 eggs
- Salt and pepper
Making Kaspressknödel is a great way to use up stale bread and other baked goods. For our Kaspressknödel, Lilli and I asked the baker for bread loaves from the previous day, saving them from the depths of the rubbish bin. Our cheese of choice is the regional Pinzgau mountain pasture cheese. We cut these two ingredients into cubes while we the chopped onion in a frying pan with a little bit of farmer’s butter. Then, stir everything together in a large bowl along with the eggs, the milk and the chopped parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Let everything steep for 15 minutes, then shape the dough into patties and sear them at medium heat with butter until they are golden yellow on both sides.
A little advice for fans of fast cooking: If you are already making the effort to make your own Kaspressknödel, then take advantage of that fact and make a larger batch. The tasty patties can easily be frozen, and you’ll be left with a long-term supply after your one-time effort.
The classic among the Kaspressknödel dishes should be familiar to anyone who’s already spent a skiing holiday in Austria: the soup. To make your own, simply prepare a vegetable soup, add the Kaspressknödel, and done. The perfect meal for cold winter evenings.
Well, alright —Kaspressknödel isn’t exactly a light meal. But at least this variation comes with a pretty healthy side dish. For our lighter variation, we’ll add a tasty salad. We like our salad with green lettuce, tomatoes, radish and potatoes, with a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This is, of course, up to everyone and their own preferences. Then just add the Kaspressknödel onto the salad, season with chives and enjoy.
What it’s really: Roasted Kaspressknödel with egg. Cut the Kaspressknödel into approximately 1-cm-thick slices and sear them in a pan for around 10 minutes with some butter. Then break the eggs into the pan, whisk them and fry for around two minutes at medium heat until the eggs have solidified. Separate the mixture into pieces, season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley or chives. Rule of thumb: One egg per Kaspressknödel.
One of the staples of Austrian home-style cooking is, of course, Sauerkraut. Add water (mixing ratio 1:2) to the Sauerkraut and cook for ten minutes at low heat. Then, add the stock to a separate container. In the meantime, brown some flour with a little bit of oil in the pan and add the stock. Stir the mixture until it is smooth and season with salt, caraway and pepper. Five minutes later, add the Sauerkraut and, if desired, add a few cubes of ham or bacon. And the Kaspressknödel? Just serve it next to or under the Sauerkraut and enjoy.
It might be hard to believe, but Kaspressknödel also makes for a tasty burger patty! Add sour cream, chives and a few slices of cucumber on the top burger bread. On the bottom half, add a few leaves of lettuce and onions. Then add the Kaspressknödel right in between, either sliced in half or whole.
And last but not least, our favourite variation. Perhaps the best dish in our mishmash collection of Kaspressknödel variations. Take a knife and a fork, season everything with a few friends and garnish with a hearty, cosy atmosphere. Once the stomach’s stopped growling and you are able to just kick back and relax with a satisfied mind, you’re done.