Thursday, September 15, 2011

Schnitz un Knepp (Apples and Dumplings)

The name of this dish is a mystery. Apfel is apple in German, so what is Schnitz? Or Knepp? Since it's from Pennsylvania, I imagine the name is Pennsylvania Dutch, which is really some kind of German. After checking with Wikkipedia, I discovered that snitz means sliced. The dried apples are sliced, so they call it schnitz. Wikkepedia calls it a staple of Pennsylvania Dutch cookery. Anyhow, it's really ham with apples and dumplings. I made it for my son and his wife after he surfaced almost two weeks after coming back from Japan. I allowed him to decide if they wanted fish or not, and he picked not.
The recipe calls for a two pound smoked ham. I asked the butcher at Giant for a bone in ham because I like bone in meat. It has more flavor She came back saying the smallest bone in ham they had was six pounds, so I got that. Possibly my issues with the dumplings resulted from the size of the ham. I bought the dried apples at Whole Foods, and got two containers. I suspect that dried apples are very expensive, because I really didn't get much and the bill was $24. But, I threw the receipt away so I don't actually know what dried apples cost.
I actually left school around 4:00 and was able to get dinner going by five. The recipe said to boil the ham for two hours and then put the apples in and cook for another hour, and at the end, put the dumpling dough in and boil for thirty minutes, making altogether three hours and a half to prepare dinner. That would have meant eating at 8:30, which I know my son doesn't like, so I made an executive decision to cook the ham for two hours and then add the dumplings. Ham is already cooked anyway, right?
I put the ham in the largest pot we had and set it to boil. It took up most of the space in the pot. After an hour, I added the dried apples, which had been soaking, and the brown sugar. The recipe says to add the dumpling dough to the pot. Well, since there was no room, I had to take the ham out of the pot, assisted in this by my son, who had shown up with my daughter in law by that time. We pried it out with some difficulty and left it in the oven to stay warm while I coped with the dumplings.
We did not eat dumplings in my house when I was growing up and I was well into adulthood before I knew what dumplings really were. To me, dumplings were dim sum. So I'm not totally sure how these were supposed to turn out. I suspect they were not supposed to turn out as they did, a sort of messy wet collection of floury lumps. At least one member of the family liked them. The others tried them without comment, except my husband complained that there was too much starch.
My husband suggested that perhaps the water was not boiling properly when I put the dough in. This may be correct. After we took the ham out the water was not boiling, and although I turned up the gas under the pot, it probably wasn't at a rolling boil the way it was supposed to be. The dried apples sort of ended up mixed in with the dumplings, so the ham did not really get the benefit of them. But the ham was good.
Anyone who tries this and has better luck with the dumplings should let us all know.

Schnitz un Knepp

2 cups dried apples
1 two-pound smoked ham ( picnic shoulder or boned butt is ideal)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup milk approximately

1. Day before, cover the apples with water and let soak overnight.
2. Next day, place the ham in a kettle, cover with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer, covered about two hours. Add apples, soaking water and brown sugar and cook one hour longer.
3. To prepare dumplings, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the egg, butter and enough milk to make a fairly stiff flour.
4. Drop the butter by spoonfuls into the simmering apple and ham mixture. Cover and let cook thirty minutes. Six to eight servings.

1 comment: