Last Updated on 3 years by Tim
Potato noodles with sauerkraut are way up my list of the ultimate comfort foods. These potato noodles are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside while the sauerkraut provides plenty of juiciness.
Potato noodles were originally called ‘Buabaspitzla’ although today most people will simply call them ‘Schupfnudeln’. They originated in Swabia and were primarily a way to stretch the scarce flour. In the Southern parts of Germany, grains have always been valued more than potatoes which have found their way into Swabian cuisine just because people were starving and needed something to eat.
Potatoes were a new world crop. People were afraid they would poison themselves with the potato. Until today, most Swabians would pick spaetzle over boiled potato as a side dish any day. It’s somehow deeply entrenched in Southern German culture that potatoes are less valuable than flour.
The Northern Germans, on the other hand, are a mystery to many Southerners. We often call them potato heads (‘Kartoffelköpfe’) because it’s much more common there to have boiled potatoes with your meal. In defense of them, if you get potatoes from your local farmer, or grow them yourself, they do taste amazing. Nothing like the bland supermarket varieties.
Potato noodles are easy to make at home
To get a tasty result, it is crucial that you prepare the potato noodles by hand. I shared my recipe for potato noodles with you as part of my basics series. Check it out in case you haven’t read it already.
Even though potato noodles are widely available to buy as a convenience product in Germany, their quality is hideous. They’re always super chewy and taste like rubber gum. That’s because manufacturers add enormous amounts of potato starch to make sure the potato noodles won’t stick or fall apart during production. Industrial potato noodles are also much thicker than handmade ones and the edges aren’t very thin. The same is true for the Swabian pretzel with its thin arms. Quality produce can only be made by hand.
Homemade potato noodles are super fluffy and have an aromatic potato taste. They’re simple to make and good for your health as they don’t contain any preservatives. Homemade potato noodles also freeze exceptionally well so that you can whip up one large batch that will last you for multiple meals.
How to cook the sauerkraut
There are few things simpler than cooking sauerkraut. You can add almost any spice to sauerkraut and it will taste good. For this recipe, I stick with the classics: Allspice, clove, caraway seeds, and bay leaf. Make sure to use whole allspice berries and cloves. If they are ground, their flavor will completely overpower the dish.
The caraway seed should be lightly crushed so they release their flavor better. It’s up to you how many caraway seeds you like to add. I know they’re a bit of an acquired taste for some because not everyone enjoys the anise flavor. If you don’t like them, just leave them out. However, in their defense, caraway seeds help to better digest the cabbage and prevent bloating.
The only other aromatics I add to my sauerkraut are bacon cubes and onions. I let the sauerkraut simmer in chicken broth until any excess liquid has evaporated or been absorbed into the sauerkraut.
There’s no need to add any extra salt to your sauerkraut. The sauerkraut is already salty by itself. The same goes for the bacon cubes. That’s why I strongly recommend you to use unsalted homemade chicken broth for this dish. Otherwise, the sauerkraut can easily turn out overly salty. The only seasoning you really need is a tiny touch of sugar to balance the acidity of the kraut.
How to serve potato noodles with sauerkraut
The potato noodles should be pan-fried just before the sauerkraut is ready so that they are crispy and warm when served. It’s important to fry them with clarified butter first before adding a knob of butter right before serving.
Regular butter would burn before your potato noodles are well browned and crispy on both sides. If you don’t have any clarified butter on hand, use neutral vegetable oil instead. The butter to finish the potato noodles adds plenty of buttery goodness and gives the potato noodles a nice sheen.
For serving, the potato noodles and sauerkraut can be mixed directly inside the pan or you can serve them alongside each other. I like to mix them like pasta but it’s totally up to your preference how you enjoy them.
Potato Noodles with Sauerkraut (‘Schupfnudeln mit Sauerkraut’)
For the sauerkraut:
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 3.5 ounces (100 g) bacon, cut into tiny cubes
- 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
- 1.5 pounds (680 g) sauerkraut, drained
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 3 allspice berries
- 1 clove
- caraway seeds, lightly crushed, to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
For the potato noodles:
- 2 tablespoons clarified butter
- 4 servings (1.8 pounds | 800 g) potato noodles
- 1 tablespoon butter, divided
Braise the sauerkraut:
- In a large nonstick pan, heat the butter and bacon over medium-low heat and slowly let the bacon fat render for about 4-5 minutes. Once the bacon is starting to get crispy, add your onions and sweat the mixture for 3-4 more minutes until the onions turn translucent. Add the sauerkraut, chicken broth, allspice berries, clove, caraway seeds, bay leaf, and sugar. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer and let the sauerkraut braise, uncovered, over low heat for about 10 minutes until all the chicken broth has been absorbed.
Fry the potato noodles:
- Heat one extra-large or two regular nonstick pans over medium heat and add the clarified butter. Add the potato noodles in one layer so that all of them have contact with the pan surface. Let the potato noodles fry on the first side for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Turn them over and fry on the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Once they’re golden brown on both sides, add the butter and swirl it around the pan so that it evenly glazes all the potato noodles.
Combine the sauerkraut and potato noodles:
- Mix the potato noodles with the sauerkraut and serve immediately before the potato noodles turn mushy. While eating, watch out for the allspice berries and clove. It’s very unpleasant to bite into them.
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