Make Some Himmel und Erde
Enjoy some Heaven and Earth
Himmel und Erde means heaven and earth and tastes like homecookin' heaven on earth.
A simple peasant dish from Germany, Himmel und Erde is a great dish for the cold winter months and is also great on the Thanksgiving table or for an Oktoberfest.
It has a fairly simple list of ingredients, but they aren't ingredients most people would normally put together. But while the mix of ingredients may sound a little odd, you will be really surprised at how well they actually go together.
1-2 Turnips (depending on size)
3 Tart Apples
2 medium Yellow Onions
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 Slices Bacon (opt)
4 Tbs Butter, or more to taste
Peel and Slice the Apples
Peel and slice the apples.
Peel and Cube the Potatoes
Peel, then cube the potatoes.
Peel and Cube the Turnips
Peel the rough skin off of the turnips and then cube them. Try to get about 1 1/2 cups or so of cubed turnip.
Cook the Potatoes, Apples, and Turnips
Now comes a choice, you can either put each of the items (potatoes, turnips, and apples) into their own pan, or you can throw them all into one pan together. Cooking the items separately allows them to cook more evenly and retain better individual flavor, while cooking them together saves on stovetop space and pan usage. It's up to you.
Whichever you chose, cover the potatoes, apples, and turnips with water, and cook them on medium until soft.
Cook the Bacon
While the potatoes, turnips, and apples are cooking, fry up the bacon. If you are vegan or vegetarian feel free to omit the bacon.
Slice the Onions
While the bacon is cooking, slice up the onions.
Drain the Bacon
Once the bacon is cooked, remove it to drain on a paper towel-covered plate.
Fry the Onions in the Bacon Grease
Add the onions to the hot grease. If preparing this as a vegan or vegetarian version feel free to substitute another oil for the bacon grease. Cook the onions until caramelized, slightly brown and soft.
Mash the Ingredients Together
When the apples, turnips, and potatoes are cooked soft, drain them and throw them all in one pan together. Toss in the onions, then mash everything together. Mash potato mixture well, but leave it just a little lumpy. It's nice to get the occasional small piece of apple, turnip, or potato in a bite.
Top Off the Himmel und Erde
Mix in salt and pepper to taste. Place the Himmel und Erde in a serving dish, then top with butter. Crumble the bacon strips over top and serve warm.
Himmel und erde tastes similar to regular, plain mashed potatoes but with a richer, more layer taste. It's actually hard to describe in terms other than yummy.
Serve Himmel und Erde in Style
Every dish looks better when served in a lovely, yet practical serving dish. This is one of my favorites and it really sets off food well.
Play with the proportions of your ingredients to satisfy the tastes of your family. Some families may like more apple flavor, others more potato.
Since this recipe is tradition for many families, you will see lots of variations on it. Many don't put in turnips at all; others top it with nutmeg or cinnamon. Still others fry the potatoes and sometimes the apples and then mix them together. The great thing about this dish is that it tastes good no matter how you make it. Try a few of the variations and see which one you like the best.
Try topping this dish with sausage or use as a side dish for pork. It goes great with many meat dishes or is nice as vegetarian/vegan dish without the bacon and/or butter.
Himmel und Erde
Himmel und Erde is great served as a side dish, it goes great with meat loaf, as in the picture below; pork, including that ham dinner; and even turkey, so it's great for holiday dinner.
Himmel und Erde is also great as a warm, filling main dish on a cold winter evening.
You can even use it as a spread on rolls or bread.
The best thing about Himmel und Erde is how easy it goes with so many different dishes.
Get a German Cookbook
Learn lots more interesting German recipes in this handy cookbook.
- Prep time: 15 min
- Cook time: 30 min
- Ready in: 45 min
- Yields: 4 servings
- 4 -5 Potatoes
- 1 -2 Turnips (depending on size)
- 3 Tart Apples
- 2 medium Yellow Onions
- 3 Slices Bacon (opt)
- 4 Tbs Butter
- Peel and slice the apples. Put the slices into a pan with water and set that on a burner. Turn the heat to medium.
- Peel, then cube a few potatoes and then place them in a pan and cover them with water. Set on the stove and turn on medium heat so they can cook.
- Peel the rough skin off of the turnips and then cube. In another pan, put about 1½ cups of the cubed turnips and cover them with water. Set that on another burner and turn the heat on it to medium.
- While the vegetables are cooking, fry the bacon in the fry pan. When it is cooked, lift it out and let it drain on a plate covered with a paper towel.
- Peel and slice the a couple small onions or one large. Set the sliced onions in the fry pan. Don't drain the bacon grease from the pan, just drop the onions in there. Cook the onions until soft and slightly brown.
- After the potatoes, apples, and turnips are tender remove them from the liquid and put in the bowl together. Add the onions. Mash everything together using a potato masher. Try and leave it just a little lumpy.
- Stir in a bit of butter, and add salt and pepper to taste. Crumble a bit of the bacon over the top and then dig in and enjoy an easy, warm, comfort food.