What are canederli?
Canederli are northern Italian dumplings made from stale bread, eggs and milk and a few other ingredients. These delicious bread dumplings are often cooked and served directly in broth or sometimes served “dry” after cooking.
The dish, canederli in broth, is from the Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige, but similar bread dumplings are made in other nearby countries like Germany and Austria as well and go by other names including knodel, semmelknödel and mariconda.
What do you need to make canederli in broth?
If you have one or two-day-old white bread don’t throw it away! You can use it to make these delicious dumplings. Just a few other ingredients are required, most of which you probably already have in your refrigerator and pantry.
Besides bread, you will need white onion, eggs, milk, butter, pepper, parsley, chives and speck. The broth can be a simple beef broth from the store or one you make from scratch with a few choice ingredients like beef, carrot, celery, onion, salt and pepper. The combination is a true comfort food that is sure to delight you and your family on a chilly winter evening.
How to make Canederli in Beef broth step by step
Instructions for making broth:
Wash, peel and cut the onion, carrots and celery into large chunks (photo 1) and put in a large stock pot. Add the meat (in large chunks) and bones as well. Add one or two bay leaves, a sprig of parsley, a few cloves, black pepper and salt (photo 2).
Cover completely with an abundant amount of water (photo 3). There should be plenty of water to be able to cook all the canederli afterwards. Put the pot on the stove and turn on the flame. Bring to a boil and then turn down medium-low and cook for three hours.
If the broth gets foamy while cooking, skim off any impurities. After cooking, separate the broth from all the other ingredients by filtering into a second smaller pot (photo 4). The broth should be clear and without any other ingredients. Add salt to taste.
Keep the broth warm while making the canederli.
Instructions for making canederli:
Cut the stale bread into small cubes of about 0.5 cm (photo 5), put in a bowl and set aside. Cut the speck into tiny strips or pieces (photo 6). Peel the onion and then finely chop it.
Put the butter in a saute pan and add the onion and speck and saute until golden brown, around 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
Finely chop the chives and parsley. Take the bowl with the bread and add the milk, eggs, chives and parsley, stirring it all together (photo 9). Now add the cooked speck and onion pieces (photo 10).
Stir the mixture, it should be wet enough to stick together (photo 11). You can leave the mixture somewhat chunky looking, with pieces of speck and clearly visible chives. If the mixture needs more moisture, you can add a little more milk. If it is too wet, you can add a bit more stale bread or breadcrumbs.
With slightly damp hands, take a small handful of the mixture and roll together to form a compact ball of about 5 cm diameter. Set the canederli balls on a platter, keeping them separate from each other (photo 12). When you have formed all the balls, around 10 in total, you are ready to boil them.
Bring the already-prepared beef broth back to a boil. Add the bread dumplings one at a time, be sure to use a large enough pot so they can all fit. Cook them for 15 minutes in the broth.
Using a slotted spoon, remove two or three dumplings and put them in a single serving bowl, ladle some broth over them and serve hot. Repeat for each person being served.
What kind of broth is best with knodel?
The authentic Tyrolean recipe calls for homemade beef broth. This region is known for its beef, and a traditional beef broth recipe is the perfect combination. However, these delicious canederli dumplings will also taste great in a vegetarian or chicken broth if that is what you prefer. If you are vegetarian, you can also easily make canederli in magro, the vegetarian version of these dumplings.
Types of broth you can use with canederli:
Bouillon cubes or ready-to-use packaged broth
What type of bread should be used for canederli dumplings?
The bread typically used to make canederli dumplings is crusty white bread that is stale, usually one or even several days old. We do not recommend using sandwich bread, but whole wheat crusty bread will work fine.
Why use stale day-old bread?
In Italy, bread is sacred. In the peasant farming tradition, throwing away bread was unheard of, because it was a staple in the diet and grain was very hard to come by. This is why every single region of Italy has recipes that call for stale or day-old bread to ensure nothing goes to waste, two great examples of this are panzanella bread salad in Tuscany and torta paesana in Lombardy.
Can I substitute speck with something else?
Yes, you can certainly substitute the speck with another meat like pancetta (Italian bacon) or sausage. Practically every family in this region has their own recipe and own special way of making canederli, so feel free to experiment and add your family’s favorite ingredients!
Can canederli be kept in the fridge or frozen?
Yes, it is possible to keep canederli (either cooked or uncooked) in the fridge for up to 2 days. Do not store them in broth or water. The dry canederli should be placed in an airtight container making sure to keep them separate from each other. They can also be frozen the same way. Do not defrost them, simply immerse them in boiling water or broth straight from the freezer.
What’s the difference between dumplings and gnocchi?
Canederli or knodels are large dumplings or balls made from stale bread and a few other ingredients and then cooked in boiling broth. They are not very similar to gnocchi, which are made from potatoes and much smaller and usually not round.
What are canederli di magro?
Canederli di magro is the vegetarian version of the classic knodel recipe. They do not include meat, which is why they are called “magro” which means lean or thin. They can be made following the exact same recipe, but just leaving out the speck. However, if you want to make them more flavorful you can substitute the speck with leeks or beets.
Tyrolean canederli in beef broth
Ingredients for broth:
500 grams beef chuck400 grams beef bones2 carrots1 celery stick1 small onionsalt and pepper to tasteParsley cloves, bay leaves, as desired
Ingredients for canederli:
250 grams stale white bread125 grams speck2 eggs200 grams milk1 medium white onion10 grams butterPepper and salt to tastechives and parsley as desired
Instructions for making broth:
Instructions for making canederli:
Authentic Italian Recipes