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Family Kumle Recipe

November 22nd, 2006

About Kumle (Norwegian potato dumplings)

Grating PotatoesWhen I was growing up I remember my grandmother making kumle 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!

Drain PotatoesKumle 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.
Potato StarchSeveral 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.

Kumle Recipe

Dumpling ingredients:
Add flour and salt

  • 6 large Idaho potatoes
  • 3/4 c. white flour
  • 3/4 c. rye flour
  • 1 t. salt

Sauce ingredients:

  • 2 sticks (1/2 lb) butter, melted
  • 8-10 saltine crackers, broken into crumbs

Make Balls

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.)

Kumle Cooking

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.

Finished Kumle

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.

Kumle Breakfast

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 kumle recipes on line:

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


19 Responses to “Family Kumle Recipe”

  1. Lin says:

    I have been reading most of these kumle recipes. My mother’s parents were full-blooded Norwegians, and I have yet to find a recipe on any of the kumle recipe sites that even comes close to the way my grandmother, great-grandmother, etc. made kumle. They used HAM HOCKS…nothing else tastes as good. I tried regular ham once. Ewww! Same as for anything else people have tried. It HAS to be ham hocks and what is with this rye flour stuff?! The kumle I grew up eating was so good, people used to BEG my mother or grandmother to make some. My dad, my brother-in-law, my ex-husband, all loved kumle and none of them are Norwegian!

  2. Lin says:

    I should have posted in my earlier post, and didn’t, is that the ham hocks were boiling on the stove while the potatoes were grated and flour, salt and pepper was added to them. They were then made into large balls and dropped in the boiling water with the ham hocks.

  3. Georgie says:

    I haven’t tried this specific recipe, but my family has been cooking their version of Norwegian dumplings forever. We use 10 lbs potatoes cut and grated with a blender, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp baking powder, 7-10 cups flour, 2-3 cups oatmeal. We use porkchops or spare ribs. My friend from Ireland says mine tastes almost like hers except they use bread crumbs instead of oatmeal and lamb instead of pork. She calls hers Klubb, we call ours Kumra. I do think that oatmeal would give better value to the meal in both holding it together and in nutrition value. I have increased the oatmeal content from 1 to almost 3 cups n the last decade or so. We eat ours with salt, pepper and butter. We fry slices of Kumra in the morning in butter, YUMMY.

  4. Ken says:

    Thanks for sharing your recipe. The oat meal sounds like a good idea. Fried Kumla makes the best breakfast!

  5. Debbie says:

    My husband’s family (I have now taken over the task) make a similar dumpling. My husbands grandparents were full Swedes and they called it Krips. We grind the potato and make a course ground pork meatball adding salt, pepper, and allspice in the meat and place in center of dumpling. We love them! The memories are the same as mentioned, the kids all take turns grinding and usually there is a count in “How many did you eat?” We all agree they are the best fried in the morning. Debbie

  6. Erlend says:

    Not to be a prickly pear or anything but “kumle” has no umlaut e at the end. In fact, the letter “ë” doesn’t exist in the Norwegian alphabet. Just thought you would like to know. 🙂

    Erlend (a Norwegian)

  7. Ken says:

    I don’t speak Norwegian, so thanks for the tip. So it should be a regular “e” at the end? I have seen it printed both ways, so I wasn’t sure which was correct.

  8. olive garden recipes says:

    I have been reading most of these kumle recipes. My mother’s parents were full-blooded Norwegians, and I have yet to find a recipe on any of the kumle recipe sites that even comes close to the way my grandmother, great-grandmother, etc. made kumle. They used HAM HOCKS…nothing else tastes as good. I tried regular ham once. Ewww! Same as for anything else people have tried. It HAS to be ham hocks and what is with this rye flour stuff?! The kumle I grew up eating was so good, people used to BEG my mother or grandmother to make some. My dad, my brother-in-law, my ex-husband, all loved kumle and none of them are Norwegian!

  9. Ken says:

    I would be interested in seeing your mother’s recipe if you can find it.

  10. Anderson says:

    My grandmother would “rice” boiled potatoes and mix with oatmeal and flour. Then she would place a chunk of salt pork and a chunk of ham in the center. Next she would boil the kumlas in salty water until “done”. She would take them out with a slotted spoon and place in a baking tray and then pour over some “gravy” she had made with her bacon drippings. Then she would bake them for a “can’t remember” amount of time. They’d be served from the baking tray and eaten with her homemade bread. Always loved them.

  11. Kathleen says:

    Hi. I am German, but when I was young, we had a Norwegian family who lived across the street from us. Their daughter and I became good friends and I was at their house all the time. Her father would make something called Ruspekeke..the spelling may not be right here. He would grate a lot of potatoes to fill a big pan, then put a layer of bacon at the bottom of the pan over the potatoes, then a layer of bacon over the top and bake it in the oven. It was so good, especially when we put the butter on top before we ate it. Can anyone please share this recipe with me? Thanks so much!

  12. Rachel says:

    This is the first recipe I’ve found online that includes – the way my family does – adding the potato starch back in. It must be a regional thing… My mother’s side of the family comes from the Stavanger area, but on my dad’s side, we’re not sure which part of Norway they’re from. Most likely somewhere in the south, though.
    I’ve never heard of making butter sauce using saltines, before, but I am intrigued!! I’m determined to make it a part of my next kumpe experience. 🙂

  13. Joelle says:

    I am half French and was raised Norwegian. Kumle is a special dish at the truck stop in Morris Illinois, west of Joliet, Ill called R Place on Rte 80. They have been serving Kumle with ham hocks for many years, seasonal, on Wednesdays.This is a farming community with alot of Norwegians. I always try to go to get my Kumle fix. I just called and they’ll be there Wednesday.

  14. Elayne says:

    I really love kumla, and at least 2-3 times a year I try to make it. Most of the time it works, but other times, I’ve forgotten a step. That step would be to wring out the potatoes so they’re pretty dry before adding the flour. Something else I discovered today in my research is putting oatmeal in the dough. I can’t wait to try it all; my last effort (last week) was horrid, and I have my heart set on some kumla.

  15. georgie says:

    Grandpa was from Stavanger. At least once a year his daughter, my Aunt, would make Kumla for the family. She always put ham hock bits in the middle of each ball. One pot cooked the potatoes, the other had the hamhocks. My Dad said the kumla should be grey in color like dirty socks. He ate the most Kumla of anybody at the dinner. Leftover kumla cooked like hashbrowns the next day…yummy!

  16. Lynette says:

    I have been making kumla for the last 14 years since meeting my son’s father. I simmer 4 large ham hocks (smoke pork shanks) in a large pot for at least 1 day. I peel and then grind at least 10 lbs. of russet potatoes with my food processor by pulsing it until they are a fine mealy texture. Then I rinse them in cold water. I put a fine dishtowel in my colander and let it sit until I have another dishtowel ready to grab a good handful of ground potatoes and then close the towel and squeeze as much water as possible from the potatoes.
    I use 2 cups of potatoes to each 1 cup of white flour. I don’t add any salt since I have to be careful with sale intake.
    I use my hand held potato masher to mix the flour and potatoes. This comes up to look like a dry mix. But after I grab a handful of the mix and start to press they stick together beautifully.
    I’ve already taken the ham out of the broth and set aside. I carefully put each kumla ball into the broth as soon as it is formed and the broth is already simmering.
    I am sure all of the other recipes are great, and I may try them sometime, but my son’s dad prefers this method as it was passed from his grandmother, to his mother, to his sister and then his niece. Luckily I got into the mix and even with no Norwegian ancestry I can say this is one of my all time favorite foods!
    Happy eating!

  17. dave says:

    My family put pork shoulder (cut into small pieces) in the middle of the dumplings and boiled. Miss the leftovers fried in butter! My Aunts used a food processor to chop the potatoes up in later years. Said it made whole process much easier….UMMM

  18. Georgie says:

    We call it Kumra. Our recipes includes oatmeal, flour, potatoes, salt, pepper, a little baking powder and we use boneless pork sparerib meat instead of lamb. The pork is easier to come by in the supermarket. So my recipe might look something like this:
    5 lbs red potatoes (grated)(We’ve never drained the liquid)
    2-3 C. Quaker oatmeal
    Pork sparerib (cubed chunks)
    1 tsp. baking powder (mix with some of the flour first)
    3-5 C. of flour (added until you can scoop some up with your cool wet hands and form baseball sized balls and it easily stays together before dropping in the boiling water)

    My great auntie, who passed it on to us also makes sweet and sour cabbage to serve along side the Kumra, but I don’t like it. We serve ours with butter, and my ex use to use ketchup. I have completely made the above recipe my own. I have hugely increased the oatmeal content over the years, so 5 lbs of potatoes will have around 2-3 cups; twice what my mom or sister would use. Oatmeal can hold thigs together, adds a ton of fiber, nutrients, and flavor that’s lacking in a flour Norwegian death ball (that’s what we call it sometimes). I noticed having Kumra at my sister’s a few months ago how flour tasting her Kumra was over mine; I like mine better. Also, with oatmeal, I can use less flour. I cut the potatoes in cubes and then run them through a processor to grind them up; no finger grating! Also, in an experiment last year I switched over to red potatoes and kept I the skin on; no more peeling or waste since the skin is very thin. A huge cut to prep time. Between the oatmeal and the potato skins, the Kumra balls are consideraly darker in color; oatmeal color. I have not looked back at the Idaho potato. After the first night, we slice it up for breakfast and fry it in salt, pepper and butter……yummmmm!

  19. Laura Jett Anderson says:

    My grandfather’s folks were from Stavanger. I remember as a child watching him make and boil the grey kumla rye potato dumplings, with ham or salt pork in the middle. They were amazing. I still love the flavor, and the morning fried version.

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