24 March 2009

Recipes of the Lost City: Luchow's Potato Dumplings

The is the third edition of a new Lost City feature wherein I rummage through my library of old New York restaurant histories and cookbooks and dig up the prime dishes the denizens of the five boroughs dined on in years gone by.

Luchow's, on 14th Street near Broadway, was the preeminent German restaurant in the city for the 100 years it existed (1882-1982). It was also a show business hangout during the days when Union Square was the center of New York's entertainment world. Everything at Luchow's was robust: the atmosphere, the hospitality, the music, the company, the music (there was an orchestra) and, above all, the food.

There were no "lite" specials at Luchow's. If you wanted salad, there was Pickled Beef Head Salad. The Herring Appetizer included herring and 16 other things, including three hard-boiled eggs. And that was before you got to the shellfish and meat courses. And well before you got to the Filled Berliner Pancake or Apple Fritters in Wine Foam.

Many of Luchow's celebrated entrees are accompanied by dumplings. An interesting aspect of the Luchow's cookbook, published in 1952, is that it boasts two house recipes for dumplings. For comparison's sake, I'm listing both here.

Potato Dumplings I

3 pounds (9) medium-size potatoes
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons raw farina or Cream of Wheat
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup toasted or fried bread cubes
1 1/2 quarts boiling salted water (1 1/2 teaspoons salt)

Scrub potatoes. Boil in salted water until just soft enough to mash. Drain and mash smoothly. Add egg yolks, cornstarch, cereal, pepper, salt and nutmeg. Beat well; shape into dumplings; place few bread cubes in center of each. (It is a good idea to shape 1 dumpling first, and if it does not hold together while cooking, beat a little flour into dumpling mixture before shaping remainder.)

Roll each dumpling lightly in flour. Cook in rapidly boiling salted water 15 to 20 minutes. Remove cooked dumplings from water; serve hot. Makes 12 or more dumplings.

Potato Dumplings II

2 pounds (6) raw potatoes
10 slices bread
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 onion, grated
1 teaspoon minced parsley
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 quarts boiling salted water

Wash, peel and grate potatoes. Soak bread in a little cold water; squeeze out as much water as possible. Mix bread, salt, pepper, onions and parsley. Add potatoes and eggs; mix well.

Form into balls; roll lightly in flour; drop into salted boiling water (1 teaspoon salt to each quart water). Cover pot tightly; boil 15 minutes. Serve with sauerkraut, beef, or chicken. Serves 4 or more.

Recipes of the Lost City: Ye Olde Chop House's Corned Beef and Cabbage
Recipes of the Lost City: Velouté of Whitebait Colony


Mykola Dementiuk said...

From the phone booth under the Pepsi sign I watched as my girlfriend and her ex, or she claimed, walked into the Automat, across the street, holding hands. I knew she was a cheater and that made me break off with her. This was in the 60s.

A few years later my boss at Grove Press took the staff to Luchow's for Christmas dinner. It was ok but after we ate a few of us went to Max's Kansas City for some drugs and rock and roll....Ah, those days :(((

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Jesus, Mykola. Those two short paragraphs break my heart. You mention "phone booth," "Automat," "Grove Press," "Luchow's," "Christmas" "Max's Kansas City" and "drugs and rock and roll," all in five sentences. It's a prose poem of New York-style nostalgic existential despair.

breadchick said...

As a food blogger and collector of old cookbooks, I'm really enjoying this series!

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Thanks, breadchick. I am enjoying writing it, but I wasn't sure if I wasn't having fun along. Glad to see it's entertaining for others, too.

Unknown said...

I saved these recipes. My family is German (in fact, that's my first language) and we call these "knoedel". The first recipe I would call Kartoffelknoedel and the second, "Semmelknoedel". These are eaten all over Germany and are one of my favorite things. THANKS!