Last week we ventured to the North Shore – destined for Silver Bay to visit our youngest son’s family. We haven’t been there for months — so it was a needed trip. There is nothing better than Lake Superior – even in a partially frozen state. The snow-covered trees against the bright blue sky provided abundant beautiful scenery.
Our first stop, however, was just a bit short of our destination. We always try to stop at Judy’s Cafe in Two Harbors when we visit the North Shore. This was no exception. It was almost noon – and Judy’s serves breakfast all day.
As we walked in (to a new, improved entrance), we saw the sign for the specials of the day. Included was this: Krop – $2.75. I had to know what that was. When the waitress arrived, I asked. She described it as raw potatoes, grated and wrapped into a ball around cubed salt pork, and then boiled in water. Unfortunately, they had sold out. We ordered our breakfast – mine was scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, and rye toast; my husband ordered patty sausage, eggs sunny side up, hash browns, toast and an extra order of patty sausage. I’m sure the waitress noted my disappointment with the krop being sold out. She kindly said: “Let me see what I can do.”
Not long after, the waitress brought me a serving of krop! Apparently someone had ordered it and not picked it up. My lucky day! The waitress sliced it in half for us and then left to get our breakfasts. I like it – but then I like anything potato; my husband did not like it. He thinks his Mom’s (and Grandma’s) klebba are much better. I ate about half of it – but left the rest so I could finish the breakfast I had ordered.
The next day, I decided to check out ‘krop’ a little further so I posted a question about it on one of the facebook north shore groups. I received hundreds of comments – full of information – which I share here.
Various names for potato dumplings
The most common responses were that this dish was Norwegian – Krop or Krob – OR – it was Swedish – Kroppakor or Krubbkakor or some variation of those spellings. There are also German variations (like my husband’s kleba – grated potatoes with flour and salt, cooked in milk and chunks of potatoes added), and a Czech version. It does seem to be a universal comfort food – particularly in homes with fewer resources or as a special holiday dish at Christmas and Easter. Other names included:
Kropp, Klubb, Kroppakor, Pait, Palt, Pult, Kumla, Kumsa, Russpa, Kloop, Krub, Krubb, Kumbas, Komle, Kompe, Raspeball.
How potato dumplings are made
Generally, the dumplings are made with grated raw potatoes, flour and salt. Some add an egg. The water is squeezed out of the potatoes so the dumpling holds together. Some add onion to the potatoes. The center is stuffed with cubed salt pork (most often mentioned), bacon, or ham. Some did not put any meat in them. The potato mixture is rolled in a ball – enclosing the meat – and put in boiling broth, water, or milk. The dumpling is then served on a plate with butter. From the responses, I think everyone does it a little differently – likely the way they learned from their grandmother or other relative.
A few actual recipes were posted:
Tips for making Krop …
- According to many who responded, it is much better the second day – sliced and fried in butter. (I want to try this; it sounds wonderful. You can also add milk to the fried krop to make a milk gravy.)
- It is good served with eggs.
- It is good served with pork chops, pork steak, meatballs or ham. (I would add bacon.)
- Add allspice for a seasoning.
- Add fresh peas in the broth.
- Serve with lingonberries (the Swedish version).
- Serve with maple syrup.
- Consider using old potatoes that are starting to sprout and shrivel. You will then use less flour and get a less pasty flavor and they hold together better. As potatoes age, the starch in them is converted and moisture is reduced.
- The secret to not having them fall apart is to grind up the raw potatoes – in a blender – with onions if desired, put the potatoes in a strainer, and then put them on a heavy linen towel and squeeze out all the water. Then add flour.
- Boil the krop slowly or the balls will come apart and there will be chunks of potatoes and floating flour in the broth.
Clearly it is a lot of work to make real potato dumplings. One person posted that it is easier by using one package of Simply Hash Browns (in refrigerated section at the grocery store), 1 egg, salt and 2 cups of flour. This method eliminates the time for grating and pressing the water out of the potatoes and perhaps some cooking time since the Simply Hash Browns are partially cooked. If you want to try an even quicker method, there is a mix, shown below:
It was very clear from all the posted messages that Krop is a universally loved and accepted comfort food – at least along the North Shore and likely in many other places.
Thanks for reading! I hope you return!!