About Kumle (Norwegian potato dumplings)
When I was growing up I remember my grandmother making kumlë around Christmas time. We grandkids would sit around the table grating raw potatoes and my grandmother would mix the dough and boil the kumle in a big pot of water. Sometimes we would compete to see who could grate the most potatoes. Then we enjoyed a delicious meal of potato dumplings covered with lots of butter sauce. Even better, the next morning we sliced the kumle and fried it in butter. It made the best breakfast!
Kumle is a favorite traditional dish from Norway. It has many other names, including klimpor, klubb, kumla, kompe, kumpe, potetball and raspeball. The recipe varied somewhat in different regions of Norway, but it always includes grated potatoes. My father remembers that while growing up in Chicago they would attend a winter kumle fest sponsored by an association of immigrants from Stavanger.
Several years ago my sister started trying to record the recipe as she watched my grandmother cook. She used the traditional cooking method of taking a handful of this and a fist full of that, then mixing until it feels right. My sister estimated the quantities and gradually refined the recipe over several years. We now have a good recipe for authentic kumle which I will share with you.
- 6 large Idaho potatoes
- 3/4 c. white flour
- 3/4 c. rye flour
- 1 t. salt
- 2 sticks (1/2 lb) butter, melted
- 8-10 saltine crackers, broken into crumbs
Begin about 2 hours before eating. Cook 2 of the potatoes and mash. Set aside to cool.
Put on large kettle of water to boil. Add a little salt. (As an alternative, use broth from cooking lamb or pork.)
Grate the remaining potatoes, using the fine side of grater. Pour grated potatoes into a sieve and let the liquid run into a bowl. Drain as much liquid as you can. Let the liquid set for a few minutes, then carefully pour off the liquid into another bowl. Scrape the potato starch from the bottom of the bowl into the grated potatoes.
Mix in the mashed potatoes, flour and salt. Do not make too stiff. Form dumplings using spoon or hands and drop into boiling water. Keep water at a slow boil and cook for about 30 minutes. Do not cook too long or dumplings will fall apart.
While dumplings are cooking, put cracker crumbs in a dry pan and brown lightly. Stir in melted butter. Serve hot butter mixture as a topping for the kumlë.
Serve with roast lamb or pork.
Optional: salt a lamb breast several days ahead (about 3/4 c. salt). Cover with cold water and refrigerate. Turn every day. Rinse meat before cooking. Cook meat until tender (3-4 hours). Set meat aside and skim fat off water. Use water to cook dumplings.
Optional: place a piece of cooked lamb, pork, or ham in the center of each dumpling.
I found other kumlë recipes on line:
- Bouquet Garni (scroll down to find the Kumla recipe). This one is the most entertaining!
- Stadsbygd Recipies
- Kumla Story by John Njaa
- Recipe from a Norwegian site
- Great Balls of Potatoes
Two key things that I learned from these recipes are: (1) It is better to squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the grated potatoes. That way you can use less flour to hold them together and the dumplings won’t be as heavy. (2) You can use a meat grinder instead of a hand grater to prepare the potatoes. Very useful for the recipes that begin “Start with 20 lbs. of potatoes…”
Posted by Ken in Recipes