At first sight, this traditional German dish is probably not the most appealing. Admittedly, the light grey is a rather odd color for food. And if you are generally turned off by offal, the little balls’ main ingredient won’t be your cup of tea either.
I have to admit. Growing up in the Palatinate in Germany’s southwest, I actually also never really liked Läwwerknepp – as the liver dumplings are called in the local dialect. Their distinct taste and smell wasn’t really for me as a child. Strangely enough, I always loved Leberwurst, a spread made from liver with a similar odd color and rather unusual taste. Without knowing what the deciding factor might have been, at some point I started enjoying the dish. More so, over the years I have become an actual fan. Nowadays, whenever I visit my parents, my mom has her trusted butcher vacuum-pack a couple servings of Leberknödel for me to take back with me to Berlin.
So if you are still hesitant, I – the unofficial German Leberknödel ambassador – dare you to give the dumplings a go. This traditional delicacy needs to get the recognition that it deserves.
Never Has Liver Tasted So Good
In case you haven’t jumped ship already, let’s take a closer look at our protagonists and how people across the country love to enjoy them. First of all, Leberknödel are typical dumplings made from beef or pork liver. They come in the same shape and size of traditional German dumplings made from potatoes or breadcrumbs. Due to the liver as the main ingredient, Leberknödel get their distinct grey color. Thus, depending on the amount of liver used, the dumplings vary in color and taste.
The regional specialty is mainly eaten in the Palatinate, Bavaria and Swabia in the south of Germany. In those areas you will often find Leberknödel at the local butcher or as a common dish on the menu of restaurants specialized in hearty German cuisine. Apart from that, certain variations also exist in Austria, the Czech Republic as well as Northern Italy or Slovenia.
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While the base recipe for Leberknödel is usually the same, the way of serving them varies from region to region. Paired with German sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and brown gravy is the standard in the Palatinate – and our personal favorite. If you don’t like this combo, try it the Bavarian way. In the southernmost part of Germany, it is common to eat the dumplings in a beef stock as Leberknödelsuppe (Leberknödel Soup).
How To Make Leberknödel At Home
Making your own Leberknödel is a rather simple task and so you don’t have to go to Germany to enjoy this special dish. Gladly, recipes call for few ingredients all of which are readily available around the world.
Give the odd-sounding liver balls a try with our simple and authentic base recipe below. You might be surprised how special and delicious they actually are!
250 g beef or pork liver, ground
5 dry white bread rolls
1 large onion
0.5 bunch parsley
1 tbsp of oil
250 ml warm milk
1 tsp freshly ground black petter
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp majoram
some semolina or breadcrumbs
beef or vegetable stock (optional)
Cut the dry bread rolls in thin slices
Warm up the milk, pour it over the bread rolls and let it rest for half an hour
Chop the parsley, peel the onions and cut them in small cubes
Heat up some oil in a pan to roast the onions and add the parsley for a short time
Now create a dough by mixing the soaked bread rolls, the parsley-onions, the ground liver, an egg and some spices (use your hands to mix all ingredients evenly)
Let this dough rest for half an hour before seasoning it with salt and pepper
Use your wet hands to form dumplings of the size of a plum
Tipp: Cook one dumpling first to test if the dough is good and does not fall apart. You may add some semolina or breadcrumbs to make the dumplings more solid
Finally boil all dumplings in salted water or stock for approx. 20 minutes
Serve the boiled Leberknödel either directly in the stock or create a delicious plate with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and brown gravy
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Játrové Knedlíčky from Czech Republic
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