Last December, on a detour from our Italy trip, Read and I spent a couple days in Innsbruck, Austria. Compared to Italy it was cold, snowy, and characteristically tidy.
The first night we walked around Innsbruck’s Christmas street fair, which was awesome. The air was chilly, christmas music was playing, and everyone was selling hot spiced wine. We passed a popular stand selling something out of a big kettle – and on a whim we bought a bowl. OH MAN. So good. It was everything I like about German potato salad – vinegary dressing, bacon, mustard seeds – but with sauerkraut and some kind of gnocchi-like noodle. We studied everything about it in hopes that we could recreate the dish at home.
Read spent most of the next day and night stricken with food poisoning in the hostel. I stayed with him, knitting, until I got too hungry. Hedging my bets on the origins of the food poisoning, I ventured out to the street fair again and picked up a second bowl of sauerkraut-bacon goodness. You’d think it would’ve lost a little glory the second time around…not so. STILL SO GOOD.
I researched the dish when I got home, but couldn’t find anything definitive. The noodles looked a lot like Halusky or Spatzle. Another promising lead was Schupfnudel…which is often served with sauerkraut. I tried doing an entire recreation from scratch earlier this spring, but my first effort at homemade gnocchi was a disaster – globs of crumbly potato falling apart in the boiling water. I ended up frying the globs instead of boiling them, which was tasty but too oily and rich. It was one of my more memorable recipe failures.
Last weekend I saw some pre-packaged gnocchi at the grocery and decided to give this whole Austrian-street-fare another go. You know what? We got pretty darn close. It was really good. I added some kale, just to give it some color and an extra helping of veggies. We sat on the porch, drank wine, and played with the cats.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook the gnocchi according to package instructions. Drain and put back in the pot. Cook 5-6 strips of bacon in an iron skillet. Set aside. Pour out the grease, saving a couple tablespoons in the skillet. Brown 1 chopped onion and 2 teaspoons mustard seeds in the grease, and add 1/2 bunch of chopped kale or greens. Stir until wilted, but still green. Scrape the onion/kale mixture in with the gnocchi, and add pieces of bacon and about 2 cups of sauerkraut (maybe less…I really love kraut).