Sauerkraut & Dumplings, from Mom and Marge
Mom recopied this from a recipe card dated 1972. First is the recipe as Grandma Fashingbauer gave it to her, and after Grandma’s version are Mom and Marge’s notes. Read the whole thing before you make it!
Grandma’s version: Cook meat in water (like soup) for 1 hour. (Chunk of bacon and chunk of pork. Spareribs are good here also. The pork can be a small pork roast—usually the cheaper cut, like a pork shoulder, etc.) Then add sauerkraut and cook at least 2 hours. Add a little water if it needs it. After you take meat out, when it is cooked until tender, then add enough grated raw potato to sauerkraut (keep cooking it) to thicken it. (If you didn’t grate enough potato for thickening, Grandma said she'd add corn starch and water as a supplement.)
Mom and Marge’s notes: For cooking meat: Mom notes: “This is the way Grandma told me but it worked better for me when I put the sauerkraut and meat in the pan and then added enough water to barely cover the mixture. Then I cooked everything together--probably on medium.”
Marge said if she uses spareribs in the sauerkraut, she does boil them in water for a little bit and after that, she drains the water, rinses the ribs and then she puts them in with the sauerkraut. She says they need this, she thinks, before going into the sauerkraut. (Sounds like they have little bits of fat, etc., on them before she does this.) The other meat is okay to go in without being boiled first. I forgot to tell you that if you don't have a piece of pork to put in the sauerkraut, if you have pork chops or pieces of pork, they are fine. You want them to cook enough so you can break them up in smaller pieces and, of course, you can take any bones out then.
Dumplings: Mom says: “Grandma made two kinds of dumplings. She made some that were a combination of grated raw potatoes and flour and salt. She, sometimes, also, made some that were a combination of cooked mashed potatoes, flour, egg, and a little salt. Actually she used to put some fried bacon cracklings (bacon pieces, fried until hard) in the center of these dumplings. She said Grandpa Fashingbauer liked that kind. I never made them. (Sounded too fat for me.) The first kind, with raw potatoes, were sort of gray-looking and very hard. This is what the Lindl family made, I think. Dad said they used to joke about them because they got so hard when cold that you could throw them like baseballs. Ugh!
I liked the second kind (recipe below) and when Marge got that recipe from me, she made them and said she liked them much better and never made the raw- potato ones again. I got the recipe for my dumplings from Clara Graves. They're easier to make because you have amounts listed. (Grandma could never tell anyone how much flour, etc., to use. She'd say you had to put in enough so they'd stick together when you dropped them into the boiling water. As Marge said, you could use up a whole batch, dropping them in and watching them break apart.)
2 cups mashed potatoes
2 cups flour (use a little more if potatoes are warm )
Beat one egg w/fork and add to potatoes and flour; also add a little salt. Cook the dumplings in boiling water; probably about 20 minutes. I haven't made these for quite a while but I think they will sink at first and then will come to the top.
Serving tips: Clara said she liked these with stew or roasts also. They can be sliced and fried when leftover or heated as is. These mashed potato dumplings are nice and white. The ones made with raw potatoes are gray and not very appetizing-looking.
Another thing that made the sauerkraut dinner good was that usually we fixed a beef roast in the oven (or as a pot roast on top of the stove) and had this also. That way, you get a nice gravy to put over the dumplings. (You also get some rich-looking meat to have along with the meat that was cooked in the sauerkraut.) Some people put the thickened sauerkraut over the dumplings but I like the gravy. Usually we liked serving wilted lettuce (w/bits of fried bacon and a sweet/sour warm dressing) with this. Sometimes we fixed cucumbers but it isn't necessary.