Swabian Beans & Knepfles

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Chef Paul Fehribach of Chicago’s Big Jones has dedicated his restaurant to reviving all sorts of forgotten foods of the South–worthy work celebrated in prestigious media like Garden & Gun.  But asked for an old-family favorite dish he makes at home, Fehribach offered up this one: Swabian Beans & Knepfles. Humble, delicious and darling (who could resist tender little handmade egg dumplings called “knepfles”?) this very simple dish was brought to America from his family’s native Swabia–a region of Germany in the Black Forest near both the Alsatian and Swiss borders. Growing up, Paul says beans & knepfles was a “one-pot supper on a fasting day, or when money was tight.” Slow-simmering just three ingredients: great northern beans, onion and chicken stock (plus a little fat and salt) yields an incredibly flavorful bean pot. Stirring little handmade egg dumpling “knepfles” in at the end adds a nice textural contrast.

Makes 8 servings

Beans Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp lard or vegetable oil, for sauteing
  • 3 cups dried great northern beans
  • 2 quarts cold chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

Knepfles (dumplings) Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, beaten well
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

 

  1. Prepare beans: In a saute pan, heat lard or vegetable oil and add the diced onion. Sweat well, sauteeing until all of the juice has rendered from the onions and they are translucent and wilted. Scoop onions into crockpot. Add dried beans and stock. Cover and heat to high until bubbling (about 45 minutes.) Reduce heat to low. Simmer 7 hours on low, until beans are tender and just beingging to fall apart. Add 1 Tbsp salt. Stir. Taste to adjust seasoning.
  2. Make dumplings: Beat eggs; whisk in milk. Add flour and salt and stir to combine into a fairly wet paste. Turn up heat on the bean pot to a low boil and drop the dough into the beans in teaspoonfuls, stirring gently after every few additions to keep the dumplings from sticking to one another. Once all of the dough has been used up, stir again gently. Add the pepper and cover the pot. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or more, stirring gently on occasion, until dumplings are cooked through and softened to the desired tenderness. Serve straight from the pot.

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