I’ll be honest, I’m sharing this recipe from a place of vulnerability. I could get away without mentioning that fact, but by doing so I would feel like I were just tossing the recipe into the world with no reverence for what it is to me.
This recipe for Norwegian potato dumplings, as written, comes from a day some years ago in which Grandma Adeline taught my mother and me how to make it–a day some time before her strokes, some time before her death. In her later years, Grandma, Mom, and I met often throughout the year to bake and cook together. The ostensible objective was for Grandma to teach Mom and me to make the Norwegian and North Dakotan specialties that were her signatures: lefse, sandbakkels, and the like. But really, I wanted to make the most of my time with Grandma while she was still alive. I have published some of her recipes here on my blog, but others I held onto closely, waiting for the right time to release them into the world. This is one of them.
I can’t count the number of times she served me her Norwegian potato dumplings throughout my lifetime–they were a specialty of hers. I remember the way they tasted: the way the briny saltiness of the dumplings met the smooth sweetness of the corn syrup, the consistent granular texture of the flours and the pull-apart tenderness of the ham that accompanied them.
The recipe I’m sharing today is written in the precise language I recorded when I documented the day we made it together before the strokes, before she passed.
This is the way she taught it, then way we made it together. I remember making spiced roasted root vegetables back then, and these would be a nice accompaniment on a chilly day, but feel free to serve these dumplings however you like. And with no further delay, I’m ready to publish Grandma’s recipe and record an experience shared years ago with the women who came before me, the one who taught me what it is to love.
Grandma Adeline’s Norwegian Ham and Potato Dumplings (Potet Klub)
This recipe comes from Grandma’s days in North Dakota, but is written according to how she taught Mom and me to make it some years ago. My only additional tip is to make a small test dumpling before cooking the entire batch and to adjust the amount of salt as needed.
1 medium package of ham, cut into large pieces 4 cups ground raw potatoes* 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup graham whole-wheat flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt Butter, for serving Maple syrup or light corn syrup, for serving
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add ham and allow to cook until heated through. The main thing is that the water starts to take on some of the flavor of the ham. Remove ham and set aside on a plate covered with foil to keep warm. Take a 1-by-2-inch piece and grind in a food processor. Reserve the water.
To make the dumplings, combine ground potatoes and ground ham with all-purpose flour, graham flour, baking powder, and salt. (This can be done by hand or in the food processor.) Add a little more flour, if necessary, to create a stiff dough that can be formed into dumplings.
Form the dough into balls between the size of a golf ball and tennis ball. Return the water to a boil and add the dumplings. Move them around in the water a bit to make sure the dumplings don’t stick to the bottom. Cook until the dumplings are cooked through, about 30-45 minutes.
Serve with reserved ham, butter, and syrup.
*To prepare the potatoes easily and quickly, peel them and shred in a food processor, then run the shreds through with the blade until they’re ground.