5 Star Makeover: Tirolerknödel with Foie Gras Sausages

Ever since the new year I was on the hunt for an Austrian recipe, a part of my ancestral roots. I had settled on Knödel and when I found out the theme for January’s 5 Star Makeover was meatballs I knew it was more than a coincidence.

Knödel are large round potato or bread dumplings, typical of Austrian, German, Hungarian and Czech cuisine. Usually they are served as a side dish for meat, goulash or in soups. But they can also be served as a dessert, such as filled with plums. I have had this dish exactly only twice in my life. My dad is Austrian and does not cook so I never ate many Austrian dishes. My first time was at my cousin’s place (my dad’s nephew) for dinner and once was in a brauhaus in Austria.

So this could fall into the meatball category I chose a very typical Austrian knödel from the state of Tyrol where smoked bacon (Speck) or sausage are added to the dumpling dough. These are called Tirolerknödel, or Tyrolean Dumplings. A now gourmet dish found in Austrian menus, Tirolerknödel  was actually food for the poor prior to the ski industry and some say the recipe is about 3000 years old.

Knödelfest in St Johann, Tyrol - photo Martin Lugger

hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

I decided to use small Fois Gras Sausage I discovered recently. They are make with pork, duck and foie gras. My meat ingredient definitely brought on the gourmet touch. My knödels were surprisingly flavorful and delicate, a real treat. They are so easy to make you should definitely try them out on your family for dinner, or even better after a day of skying.

Ξ Tirolerknödel with Foie Gras Sausages Ξ

8 oz stale bread or rolls, torn apart or cubed
3/4 cup milk, warmed
5 oz Foie Gras Sausage (or any sausage)
1 tbsp butter
1/2  large yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (I used coriander)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour, give or take

Directions:

Place the bread in a bowl and pour the milk evenly over it. Stir and set aside.

Place the Foie Gras Sausages in a skillet and fry until browned. Remove from skillet and cut into small pieces.

Add the butter and onions to skillet and fry until translucent and amber colored. Stir in the parsley and set aside to cool.

Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs to the bread mixture. Add the cooled onions and sausages.
Combine well with your  hands. Add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until the mixture hold a bit better, it should feel like a very sticky dough. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil. Form 10 small dumplings with wet hands and drop into the boiling water. Reduce the heat so the water simmers gently and cook for about 15 minutes. Dumplings are done when they float. Serve with a hot broth and garnish with parsley.

The knödels are very delicate when you take them out of the boiling water but will hold better after they cool down a bit. The inside is very moist, a bit like a savory bread pudding. If you have leftovers slice them up and frying them in a skillet for breakfast.

A note on the foie gras sausage:  Wish I took a pic of the package but it is long gone in the trash. But I bought them at my local’s farmer’s market this summer and kept them frozen. This is not a common product at all. Only hint I found online is this french website advertising the sausages.  They are cocktail sized, white and the first ingredients should read pock, duck and foie gras.

Food Court @ Foodlab, trying to get Street Food to Montreal

Staying on the theme of street food from my previous post, did you know street food in Montreal is illegal? Apparently there is a municipal by-law banning the sale of street food has been on the books since the 50s. I always enjoyed having my NYC hot dog or roasted peanuts when I went down to the Big Apple for a long weekend but I have to admit I was pretty happy Montreal was free of a hot dog cart on every corner. Back then street food was junk food.

But now street food is the new chic dinner outing amongst the big cities foodie world. Parks have dedicated weekends where the best street food vendors sell their tasty small sized treats in a group. Cities that allow street vendors have seen the quality of the dishes rise, it’s a dog eat dog cut throat competition now to impress your customers and have them come back.

But not in Montreal, or are the times a changing? Queue the entrance of Grumman ’78, a taco truck that can operate during events when hired by the event organizers. This suggested loop in the law was allowed by City Hall. So if you want to hire Grumman ’78 for an event and have them sell their tacos on the street…that is OK. I have enjoyed their tacos twice: once at a cookbook launch event and once at the Food Court @ Foodlab, an event that was organized by Grumman ’78 of course.

Setting up shop on the now deserted stretch of Saint-Laurent street between Sainte-Catherine and René-Lévesque (due to a business offices/condo political fiasco), at the Place de la Paix urban square,  the Food Court @ Foodlab took place on September 30th 2011. I went there with another wonderful foodie friend of mine, Johanne. Here is a sampling of what we enjoyed…

A Grumman ’78 taco of course! The menu changes all the time and today it was curried goat. It was so finger liking good. With this taco we ordered each a hibiscus juice and we shared a gooseberry cheese cake. Who else would think of gooseberry for a cake! I love the white picnic tables set up to eat our goods.

L’Expérience Kangourou is run by these 2 wacky dudes! I first hear about them about 3 years back when the dinner group went to the Mondial Gourmand. Back then allt hey served was exotic kangaroo meat. If you have not tried it I urge you to taste this succulent meat. They had kangaroo on the menu but we decided to try the other 2 meats….

muskox on the left - seal on the right

The first was seal, double verdict: gross! If you like liver you will adore it, if you hate liver don’t even try. It had a strong iron taste with a meat texture. But the second meat oh so made up for it, we had muskox which is also an Arctic animal. Now this was heavenly meat, a perfect marbling of fat and muscle nicely grilled up. I wanted a full steak after.

Next we shared a very nice pulled turkey sandwich from Pas d’cochon dans mon salon, which translates into No pigs in my Living Room, what an awesome name.

no comment!

We followed it up with delicious meatballs from Nora Gray. I just love to witness to what extent my friends will go to make a good pic for the blog when I make a request!

Still sometime a challenge for me when it comes to acquired tastes, Curtis Vargo did not disappoint with wonderful fresh oysters. Oh Curtis, LOVE the apron!

After all these small dishes I think a dessert is well deserved. From la Dinnette Nationale we tasted 3 shortbread cookies: white peaches and anise seeds, goat cheese and hazelnuts, and both our favorite chocolate and black olives. I know it sounds like a weird combo but I was quite a revelation…just make sure to use only dark chocolate.

And the finale of our foodlab experience were soft and addictive homemade caramels: one honey flavored the other fleur de sel. Fleur de sel was the winner but it was a close call!

Our mini street food event was declared a big success, Johanne and I had a blast exploring the various food here. I hope there is many more such event to come in Montreal. Do you have street vendors in your city?