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We Pennsylvania Dutch and Coal Region folk are a frugal lot. Not only do we use just about every inch of a butchered animal for food and sustenance, but we get creative and come up with multiple dishes using ingredients some consider less than crave-worthy.
Take liver for instance; just about everyone has heard of liver and onions, but that can get a little boring. Plus, if you are like many a “Dutchie” you have some extra beef liver hanging out in your freezer just waiting to be put to good use. Enter the leberknoedel , or “liver noodles”, a traditional dish of German, Austrian and Czech cuisines (the word “Dutch” in “Pennsylvania Dutch” does not refer to the Dutch people or language, but to the German settlers to the region, known as Deutsch).
Leberknoedel is usually composed of beef liver, though in the German Palatinate region pork is often used instead. .
Actually calling these “noodles” may be a bit of a misnomer to today’s cook — they are more like a “dumpling” than the flat, thin piece of pasta found in grocery stores in cellophane bags, dried and ready to be dumped into boiling water or stock which many people identify as “noodles”.
Leberknoedel, rather, is like a dumpling. It is flavorful and can be eaten in soup or as the protein for a meal served with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. They pack a nutritional punch and are very budget friendly – liver is extremely inexpensive at your grocery store or butcher. Yes, they might appear a little plain (and gray), but if you like liver, you really should give these a try!
Liver Noodles or LeberknoedelCourse: Soups, EntreesCuisine: Pa. Dutch, German, Coal RegionDifficulty: Easy
1/2 pound calves liver
2 Tablespoon butter
1 small onion
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 Teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup bread crumbs
Freshly ground black pepper
Simmering soup or broth in which to cook leberknoedel.
- Clean liver by removing any veins or membrane.
- Using a food processor, combine the liver, butter, onion, parsley, and seasonings and process until smooth.
- Add the breadcrumbs and eggs and process until well mixed. Add a bit more bread crumbs (or flour) if needed, for dumplings to hold together.
- Using wet hands if needed, using about 2 tablespoons mix for each, form into balls.
- Bring broth (or soup) to boil. Add dumplings and reduce heat to a simmer. Dumplings will float to the top when they are done, about 20 minutes.