Swabian lard noodles might be the most indulgent noodle dish in this world. Potato noodles filled with lard. All that fatty goodness soaked up by a flavorful noodle dough.
Yes, you heard it right. These noodles are made from potatoes! As you might know, Swabians don’t eat plain potatoes. That is what the potato heads from the North do. In Swabia, potatoes are only acceptable in the following form:
Swabian people, in general, prefer grains over potatoes. But what do you do if flour is scarce and expensive? That was the situation in ancient Swabia.
You somehow have to stretch the flour to make it last longer. Working with potatoes is the way to go. This is why things like potato bread, Schupfnudeln, and these lard noodles were invented.
Noodles that are rolled up like a cinnamon roll are called “Schnecken” (snails) in Germany which kind of makes sense. Just take a look at these. They look like a snail shell. Thus a more literal translation of this recipe would be “lard snails”.
What is German lard spread (“Griebenschmalz”)?
The filling is traditionally a lard spread (“Griebenschmalz”) mixed with extra onions. As you might know, Germans love to spread lard on their bread. It’s so much more delicious than just plain butter. Usually, the lard spread contains a few fried pieces of meat and crackling (the so-called “Grieben”) and onions. The fried pieces of meat and crackling are what is leftover if you render pork fat.
If you can buy German “Griebenschmalz” then that is great. Otherwise, you have to use whatever lard spread is locally available to you. I have to admit I didn’t use “Griebenschmalz” when I prepared this recipe for the blog. Just when I was looking for the “Griebenschmalz”, I saw that they sold mixed goose and pork lard with fried onions and a bit of garlic at a discount price.
If you see goose fat on sale, then you can’t pass this opportunity. There is no bird that tastes more glorious than a goose. So I had to get that.
What is important though is that the lard is a lard spread that is already pre-seasoned and contains things like onions, crackling, salt, and maybe spices or herbs. Otherwise, you have to mix plain lard with a few seasonings of your choice because the taste will be plain otherwise and less aromatic (although goose fat is delicious by itself!).
Things to consider when preparing Swabian lard noodles
Don’t be afraid when working with the potato dough. It might be a bit sticky. Continue to add more flour and knead the dough until you feel comfortable that you can roll it out thinly without tearing it.
Usually, recipes tell you to chill the dough in the fridge before rolling it out so that it is less sticky and a bit firmer. I can’t be bothered to do that but I have included this step in the recipe. What is important is that you generously dust your work surface with flour when rolling out the dough. Potato dough is sticky!
Next, the filling: It’s easiest to spread the filling onto the potato dough if it is soft but not melted.
I briefly sweat the onions for the filling in the lard so that it gets melted in the pan. Now there are two options: Just go ahead and fill the dough or wait for the lard to resolidify. I don’t have the patience to wait here either. And I love the rustic look that my lard noodles have. I don’t aim for them to be perfectly uniform. But if you want them to have a “perfectly” cinnamon-roll-like shape you can wait for the fat to re-solidify and spread it on the dough like soft butter.
These noodles get baked in the oven. For them to cook through and not turn out hard, you need to fill your baking pan with a bit of milk to steam the noodles while they bake.
It’s very easy to see when the noodles are done. Once the surface has browned to your liking, take them out. Don’t worry if it seems like there’s still a little milk in the pan. That will be reabsorbed while the noodles rest and cool down a little after baking.
Traditionally, Swabian lard noodles are served with sauerkraut and sometimes also some kind of meat like, for example, Schäufele. This recipe makes 8 small noodles. Perfect as a side dish if you have a few other dishes at the table. If you want to eat them just with sauerkraut as a main dish, prepare a double batch!