Bucks County Herald

Susan S. Yeske: Dining Out

A Pennsylvania Dutch favorite – Boova Shankel

Oversized dumpling is stuffed with mashed potato

A Boova Shankel, the signature creation at Boova Haus at the Quakertown Farmers Market, is an oversized Pennsylvania Dutch dumpling with a mashed potato filling that is topped with fried onions, turkey gravy or beef mushroom gravy.

Donald Mensch’s mother was living in a Mennonite nursing home when he started making one of his family’s favorite foods, the Pennsylvania Dutch Boova Shankel.

Loosely translated from German as “boy’s foot,” it’s a dough pocket similar to an oversized pierogi that is stuffed with a mixture of mashed potatoes, onions, celery and parsley.

Mensch made the Boova Shankels for his mother and her friends in the nursing home; he would make the egg dough and filling from scratch, fill the pockets and deliver them to the kitchen at the home. There they would be finished and served as a special treat.

“It’s a very old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe and a lot of people don’t make it anymore because it’s so labor-intensive,” Mensch said.

Everyone who tried them told Mensch they loved them. “Everyone said I should make them to sell.”

When his job at a printing company came to an end, he did just that, opening Boova Haus at the Quakertown Farmers Market two years ago with his partner, Jason Van Dyke. Located between entrances 18 and 19, they are satisfying cravings for old-fashioned, from-scratch Pennsylvania Dutch dishes that you don’t find anywhere else nearby.

In addition to Boova Shankels, the partners serve chicken bot boi, which is Pennsylvania Dutch pot pie, a soup topped with rich egg noodles. They also serve pork and sauerkraut, meat loaf with mashed potato filling, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs with sauerkraut, homemade soups and corn fritters. Desserts vary, but there is always a fried pie topped with confectioners’ sugar. And Van Dyke bakes his personal recipe for wet-bottom shoofly pie, along with other treats.

The restaurant opens early for the three days each week the market is open, so the partners also serve egg and cheese sandwiches on a roll.

The Boova Shankels are sold ready to eat or cold to cook at home. That’s the favorite of some customers, who like to create their own gravies or stews to put on top. In the days when most food was made at home, every family had a favorite way to serve them, Mensch said. Some liked browned onions, meat stews, or a brown butter and milk combination.

Mensch said he has heard different explanations for why the dumpling is compared with a boy’s foot. “Some say that where the edges are crimped together, it looks like toes,” he said. Others have said they think it looks more like a pocket.

The restaurant is closed this week for vacation, but will reopen Sept. 22 with plenty of Pennsylvania Dutch foods for those who grew up eating Boova Shankels as well as those who want to try something new.


Store 403
Between entrances 18 & 19,
Quakertown Farmers Market
201 Station Road, Quakertown

Customer favorites:
Boova Shankel, pork and sauerkraut, chicken bot boi soup (Pa. Dutch pot pie), wet-bottom shoofly pie.

Breakfast sandwiches $2.99-$3.99, soups and starters $2.99-$4.99, entrees $5.99-$8.99.

9 a.m.-9 p.m. Fris. & Sats., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Suns.




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