The Krapfen King: Schlutzkrapfen
He loves to eat them himself. When a cook is inspired to potter around for that reason, little can go wrong. Patrick Trois, chef at the Dorfkrug in Mösern, makes people’s taste buds dance with joy with his Schlutzkrapfen. Naturally, it’s a Tyrolean dance…
Watching a master of his trade at work is always fascinating. An almost cheeky ease where the inexperienced cook would get annoyed by his clumsiness, an elegant fluency where the amateur would be turning the pages of the recipe book and a deft repair where the unpractised would start all over again in exasperation. You can sense this in every workshop but, when it is a kitchen, there’s a prickle of excitement. Like here, at the Dorfkrug inn in Mösern, where Patrick Trois is both manager and chef, and just about to cook his Tyrolean speciality, Schlutzkrapfen. “It’s a regional dish, simple to make, and I like eating them myself – when it is me that has made them” says Patrick. He joins in the laughter at his final remark, but he knows what he is talking about. And what he is capable of.
Schlutzkrapfen: Varied Traditions
Schlutzkrapfen is an extremely apt name for this dish. Straightforward and yet a little difficult at times, just like the Tyroleans, who obviously named these after their slipperiness once they are cooked in salted water. The word Krapfen (‘doughnut’) is a little bit confusing because the only thing that links Schlutzkrapfen with the traditional Faschingskrapfen is that they both have a tasty filling. But this filling is not hidden inside a sweet yeast dough, but in a pasta mixture. No surprise that the Italians call their own Schlutzkrapfen variation “ravioli tirolesi” or more poetically – referring to the shape – “Mezzelune” (‘half-moons’). The Carinthians call their version “Kärntner Nudeln” while the Swabians are proud of their “Maultaschen”. But Schlutzkrapfen – and here in the heart of the Tyrol you can justifiably maintain this with complete subjectivity – are the best.
A Master at His Work
In no time at all, Patrick Trois is busy kneading the dough. Rye flour, wheat flour, eggs, oil and salt are so quickly mixed in his bowl that the ingredients themselves must be surprised at the rapid change. “If it isn’t too warm, you can also let the dough stand a little longer,” says the cook, giving some practical advice for preparing the dough to those who are used to dealing with family delays at meal times. “It’s best to work the dough at room temperature,” he says, as he gets on with rolling out the ball of dough on the floured work surface. Those conspiracy theorists who don’t believe that the earth is round would have a fine time here. The dough does not get a chance to lay flat for long, as Patrick has chosen a pastry cutter and is busy producing plenty of small circles. As round and straight don’t usually work well together – apart from on a football field – the remains of the dough are gathered up into a ball and rolled out again to produce a few more circles of dough. The ones, perhaps, that will avoid hungry disputes about the food at the meal table.
Cookery as a Passion
Now it is time for the filling. The Dorfkrug in Mösern along with Patrick Trois’s father Josef Trois were founding members of the “Culinarium Alpentraum” (‘Alpine Dream Culinarium’), a tasteful initiative on the Seefeld plateau, which promotes the use of the fine ingredients from the region, seasonal influences and the high quality of the choice local cuisine. Eight ‘hosts with a passion’ signed up and, for 20 years, alpine cuisine has been honoured in the restaurants of the Culinarium Alpentraum. That is also the reason why Patrick Trois, who became a cook in 2006 and then head chef at the house in Mösern (which was opened in mid-December 1986), is extremely picky when it comes to the choice of ingredients. It doesn’t matter whether it is Schlutzkrapfen or any of the other delicacies on offer at the Dorfkrug.
His own preferences are the measuring-stick for the taste of the fillings for the Schlutzkrapfen. “I prefer spinach. You can also use pumpkin or mushrooms or meat – it depends on your taste and the season. Spinach always works, though,” he says. Anyone who is looking for something a little heartier can also try a Graukas (Tyrolean ‘grey cheese’) filling. There is no scarcity of variations. But Patrick prefers spinach and so he chops the onion finely, fries it in butter until it is golden-brown and adds the spinach, salt, pepper, nutmeg and grated cheese in his customary efficient manner.
The promising filling is now added to the dough circles, the edges are brushed with egg, and then folded and pressed down with a fork. They really are half-moons, the Italians had it right. “You can also freeze them perfectly well,” Patrick pauses in his work to give a tip which means that it is worthwhile to ‘produce’ bigger amounts at one time, so that one is not caught short if there is a sudden craving for Schlutzkrapfen.
Nothing Works Without the Family
Patrick did have a small diversion before cookery became his world: “I went to the HAK (business school) for two years. But sitting there and learning wasn’t my thing. Then I trained to be a chef, like my father. It’s in our blood.” Nice.
As he explains that his parents also still happily work, Edith Trois comes into the kitchen and checks, with the usual aware friendliness that all passionate hosts in tourism possess, that everything is going well. It is indeed, the salted water in the large pan is bubbling away around the Schlutzkrapfen. Patrick is ignoring them for the moment and is browning a large portion of butter in a pan. The moment approaches which will explain the name of the dish. The Krapfen’s time in the water is over. The cook lifts them cleanly out with a skimmer – this is where you need the right touch as the outside of the Krapfen are, as their name suggests, “schlutzig” or slippery. Hasty movements can easily result in a Schlutzkrapfen making its own journey around the kitchen. “Now I’ll fry them a little in the butter,” he explains. Sounds great to me.
The Taste Buds Dance
The taste buds start to dance as eyes and nose send their messages and the whole body transforms into a state of happy expectancy. Out of the pan, onto the plate, grated cheese sprinkled over, the rest of the butter dripped on top and then the first bite of Schlutzkrapfen reaches the mouth and the taste buds break into dance. A Tyrolean jig, naturally.
If you are already salivating and want to try some Schlutzkrapfen, then you can of course visit the Dorfkrug Mösern – or try making them yourself! The recipe à la Patrick Trois and complete instructions can be found soon on our blog in the category”kitchen“.
We hope you have a lot of enjoyable fun with them!
Fotos: Tom Bause