Filled Noodles (Gefüllte Nudeln)

By Mark Wieser 

So many, whom I have encountered throughout the years, have believed that being of German descent meant I ate a lot of Wienerschnitzel. Not true! In fact, never, but we did enjoy a number of things that bring back fond memories. Filled Noodles was one of my favorite meals that my mother made—and made often upon repeated requests by all five of us. Although served hot it was a dish that we enjoyed at any time of the year.

Every county of which flour became a staple created some variation of filling pasta dough. Different pastas have different names based on what shapes the dough was molded. Cut into squares, rolled into tubes, pulled into long strings, and even twisted into spirals, each lent itself to an array of sauces and fillings. Pasta folded upon itself created pockets that could be filled with an unlimited array of meats.

Italians came up with Tortellini and Ravioli, also Ravioli Gigante, which obviously is a much bigger Ravioli. Their neighbors to the north called them Maultashcen (mousepockets)—not the most attractive name, but delicious and popular all the same. Our Fredericksburg version is better known among natives as Filled Noodles from the German Gefüllte Nudeln.

Invariably when our mother asked what we would like to eat, we would answer with this dish or Eintopf (a meal consisting of one thing). While there are dozens of recipes for the filling, my mother’s was typically simply a pan-browned and seasoned ground meat of which a good-sized tablespoon or more was placed in the center of a small, 4 to 6-inch rolled-round of dough, crimped closed and then dropped into a pot boiling tomato sauce from 15 to 20 minutes. Served piping hot in a soup bowl made a dish that we relished and still today recalls memories of a much simpler life.

To make the noodle dough:
         2 eggs
    2 tbsp water
2 cups flour
         ½ tsp baking powder
         flour as needed to roll
         mix ingredients to make a stiff dough
         divide and roll out about a dozen individual rounds

To make the filling:
         1 pound of ground meat
         salt and pepper to taste
         1 small chopped onion
         a pinch of chili powder, if desired
         brown the mixture in a small amount of olive oil

To make the sauce:
         1 large #2 can of tomatoes
         1 cup of water
         Salt to taste
         Bring to boil, reduce and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve piping hot in soup bowls.

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