Veal Dumplings and Onion Garlic Sauce

The second entry from our peasant recipe experiment features veal dumplings and a highly speculative onion sauce. The dumpling recipe, which already featured here, is from the Oeconomia and is actually not associated with peasants except through the company it keeps:

Veal dumplings with parsley and bacon

Of veal dumplings

(marginalia: Making veal dumplings)

Chop raw veal together well and chop good pieces of bacon with it. Add finely cut parsley and chop it with the rest. Break 3 or 4 eggs into it and strew in pepper, saffron and ginger. Bring pure butter to the boil, drop in the dumplings with a spoon and let them boil. But you must only cook them over coals or they will become too burned (pr√ľntzlich). And you must also not stir them with the spoon, but only shake the pot. Then take them out and lay them with boiled veal and let them cook along with it. The rear quarters of the calf are the best, they are nicely meaty.

This was an easy recipe to get right: A pound of ground veal from the Turkish butcher with about 125 grammes of chopped bacon, some parsley, pepper, ginger, a little extra salt (not much because of the bacon) and a two eggs. The proportions worked out, and though I think they would be improved by adding breadcrumbs, that may just be my German soul speaking.

Slowly deep-fried

We fried the first batch at a gentle heat and they turned out well, though they took a good deal longer than I expected. Because we wanted to eat before sundown, we baked the second batch instead and they also turned out very nicely. Then I looked to a sauce to serve with them and returned to an association I had come across frequently: Peasants eat garlic and onions. Hieronymus Bock writes in the 1550s:

But in summer our peasants, when hay is made and grain harvested, drink all manner of water as they can get it, and they eat much onions and garlic upon it. Thus the raw, evil water is distilled and digested and what is evil in it departs from them with great steam and foul smell. Thus they rarely suffer harm from drinking water, for which they should thank the egyptian gods, onions and garlic.

Onion-garlic sauce

Of course the assertion that onions and garlic are the sauce of the peasants may refer to them being eaten raw, but I recalled a few recipes for complex onion sauces and wanted to see if they could be simplified.

We chopped onions and garlic, sauteed them in pork fat, added broth, put in some salt and pepper and kept the pot simmering, adding liquid as needed, for about two hours. The result was excellent: rich, unctuous, with a touch of sweetness and a mild, but noticeable garlic tang. We had it with all our dumplings. I have, sadly, not yet found any evidence that this was prepared, but we now know that it could be done.

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