These bacon dumplings are the first knödel recipe on my blog that isn’t part of my basics series. That’s because they are so much more than just a side dish. They can easily be the main attraction served in a rich and meaty broth.
They contain all the elements you need for a good meal: Bread, bacon, and spinach. It’s hard to come up with more stereotypical German flavors. They taste like home to me.
If you’ve made plain bread dumplings before than preparing bacon dumplings won’t be a challenge for you. It’s the same process with all the same rules as for regular bread dumplings. If you’re still a little inexperienced, please take a look at my basics post about bread dumplings. There, I explain in detail how to prepare and troubleshoot these dumplings.
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How to prepare the perfect bacon dumplings
The most important steps to bacon dumpling perfection are:
Let the dumpling batter rest for at least half an hour so that the flavors can mingle and the bread is fully hydrated before cooking.
Don’t overwork your dumpling batter. Only mix it briefly without applying too much force.
The cooking water should never be at a boil. Just below a light simmer is enough.
Cook a test dumpling first to see if the dumpling batter is too stiff or falls apart.
If you stick to these four principles, there’s no way to fail. It might take a few tries to get consistent results when preparing dumplings. But once you’ve mastered the process, you can come up with all kinds of new creations. Anything can be made into a dumpling.
Why homemade broth is non-negotiable
If you’re serving these bacon dumplings plain with broth then it is of utter importance that you use homemade broth. I have shown you in my basics series how to prepare chicken and beef broth. Store-bought broth lacks strength and isn’t nourishing at all. If you own a pressure cooker, it takes less than half an hour to cook a superb chicken broth.
I know this might sound alien to some people. Meat broth is one of the most common instant foods because everyone thinks it’s a very involved process. But it couldn’t be any simpler to prepare. Maybe it’s because at my home we always ate real beef and chicken broth that I can’t stand the taste of the store-bought stuff.
If you put all the effort into making bacon dumplings, it would be a shame to serve them with salty msg water that has no depth of flavor.
If you’re new to making bread dumplings, I highly recommend you first cook a test dumpling before adding the entire batch into your poaching liquid. In case the test dumpling falls apart add a tablespoon of flour or breadcrumbs to the mixture. Cook another test dumpling and in case it keeps falling apart incorporate more flour or breadcrumbs into your dumpling dough until the test dumpling holds its shape.
Put the bread roll cubes inside a large mixing bowl. Heat the milk in a small pot or the microwave until it is lightly simmering. Pour the hot milk over the bread roll cubes and mix briefly. Cover with plastic wrap and let the bread roll cubes sit for 30 minutes.
Prepare the dumpling dough:
Heat the butter in a small nonstick pan over medium heat and add in the bacon. Sweat for 8-10 minutes or until the bacon fat has rendered and the bacon cubes are crispy. Add in the onion and sweat for another 1-2 minutes until the onion turns translucent. Add the bacon and onion mixture to your soaked bread roll cubes along with the eggs, spinach, cheese, parsley, and flour. Season to taste with black pepper and nutmeg. You don’t need to add any salt. Bacon, cheese, and bread are already salty! Just briefly mix the dough and don’t knead it. It should be super light and fluffy. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let it sit for another 15 minutes.
Form the dumplings:
Wet your hands and form round-shaped bread dumplings by rolling the dumpling dough between the palm of your hands. The dumpling size is up to your choice. Around the size of a tennis ball is ideal. Make sure the surface of your dumplings is completely smooth without any holes as you don’t want any water to leak inside your dumplings. Put the dumplings into hot water that is lightly salted and keep it at a light simmer. Poach the dumplings for about 15-20 minutes. The dumplings will sink to the bottom first and then slowly float up to the top over time.
Serve your dumplings:
I recommend serving bacon dumplings with chicken or beef broth. Season the broth to taste with vinegar and salt. Sprinkle the dumplings with some chives and pour the hot broth over them. They are also delicious served with brown butter and some extra shredded cheese on top.