Boova Shenkel – Boys’ Legs – Beef With Potato Dumplings Recipe

Welcome to my kitchen where I’m about to share with you one of my all-time favorite Pennsylvania Dutch recipes – Boova Shenkel, also known as Boys’ Legs. This dish consists of tender stewing beef and potato dumplings that essentially resemble giant oversized pierogis.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, this dish was a staple in my family’s recipe book and it brings back so many memories of family dinners and gatherings. I’m excited to share this recipe with you and hope that it becomes a favorite in your household as well.

Don’t let the name fool you – there are no actual boys’ legs in this dish! The name simply refers to the shape of the potato dumplings. The dish consists of beef stew with potato dumplings that are cooked slowly for 2-3 hours until the meat is fork-tender and the dumplings are soft and pillowy.

In this recipe, I will guide you through the process of creating this traditional Amish dish. So, put on your apron and let’s get started!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Boova Shenkel - Boys' Legs - Beef With Potato Dumplings
Boova Shenkel – Boys’ Legs – Beef With Potato Dumplings

Are you looking for a comforting and hearty meal that will warm you up on a cold winter day? Look no further than Boova Shenkel – Boys’ Legs – Beef with Potato Dumplings Recipe. This traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dish consists of beef stew and potato dumplings that resemble giant oversized pierogis. Trust me, once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

The dish consists of tender stewing beef that is cooked slowly for 2-3 hours with potatoes until they are tender and full of flavor. The meat is then covered in water and broth and seasoned to taste. The potato dumplings essentially act as a filling and soak up all the delicious broth and seasoning from the meat. Trust me, it’s a combination that you won’t be able to resist.

The recipe calls for a few simple ingredients, including bacon drippings, shortening, flour, eggs, onion, parsley, potatoes, and of course, stewing beef. You’ll also need some milk, butter, salt, and baking powder to make the dumplings. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, as there are plenty of substitutions and variations you can make to suit your taste.

Not only is this dish delicious, but it’s also a traditional Amish recipe that has been passed down for generations. It’s a dish that brings people together and creates a sense of community and friendship. So why not gather your friends and family around the table and enjoy a warm bowl of Boova Shenkel – Boys’ Legs – Beef with Potato Dumplings Recipe? Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredient List

“Satisfy your cravings with this hearty beef and potato dish!”

Let’s dive into the ingredients of this hearty Pennsylvania Dutch dish called Boova Shenkel or Boys’ Legs. Stewing beef is the star of the show, cooked slowly in water and broth with added seasonings to taste. The potato dumplings are essentially giant oversized pierogis that consist of a potato filling wrapped in a dough made of flour, baking powder, shortening, butter, salt, eggs, milk, and cold water.

To add some extra flavor, we’ll need some bacon drippings or butter, onion, and parsley. And of course, we can’t forget about the potatoes that will accompany the beef stew. Make sure to have enough salt and pepper on hand to season everything to perfection.

Here is the full ingredient list:

  • Stewing beef
  • Water
  • Broth
  • Seasonings (to taste)
  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Shortening
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cold water
  • Bacon drippings or butter
  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Salt and pepper

The Recipe How-To

“A comforting meal that warms your soul and fills your belly.”

Preparing the Beef Stew

  1. Cut 2 pounds of stewing beef into small cubes.

  2. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings or butter over medium-high heat.

  3. Add the cubed beef to the pot and cook until browned on all sides.

  4. Add 4 cups of water or broth to the pot, covering the meat.

  5. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with any other seasonings you prefer.

  6. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender.

Preparing the Potato Dumplings

  1. Peel and boil 6 large potatoes until they are tender.

  2. Mash the potatoes in a large mixing bowl.

  3. Add 1/2 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of butter, and 2 teaspoons of salt to the mashed potatoes.

  4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/4 cup of shortening.

  5. Beat 2 eggs in a small bowl and add them to the dry mixture.

  6. Add the dry mixture to the potato mixture and mix until a dough forms.

  7. Roll the dough into small balls, about the size of a golf ball.

  8. Drop the balls into the simmering beef stew, making sure they are covered by the liquid.

  9. Cover the pot and let the dumplings cook for 20-25 minutes until they are fully cooked and resemble giant, oversized pierogis.

Serving the Boova Shenkel

  1. Ladle a generous portion of the beef stew and dumplings into a bowl.

  2. Garnish with chopped onion and parsley if desired.

  3. Serve hot with a side of potato salad or friendship bread.

  4. This hearty and filling dish is perfect for a warm and comforting meal on a cold day. Enjoy the traditional Amish flavors of Boova Shenkel!

Substitutions and Variations

“Boova Shenkel: the ultimate comfort food for meat and potato lovers.”

While this recipe for Boova Shenkel – Boys’ Legs – Beef With Potato Dumplings is quite traditional, there are still some substitutions and variations that can be made to cater to your personal taste. Here are some of my recommendations:

– Meat: While stewing beef is the traditional meat used in this dish, you can use other cuts of beef or even pork. You can also make a vegetarian version by using mushrooms or seitan instead of meat.

– Dumplings: The potato dumplings are the heart of this dish, but you can also use other types of dumplings or noodles. Try making the dumplings with sweet potatoes or adding herbs like rosemary or thyme for extra flavor.

– Broth: You can use beef broth, chicken broth, or vegetable broth depending on your preference. You can also add some red wine or beer to the broth for extra depth of flavor.

– Vegetables: While the recipe only calls for onions and parsley, you can add other vegetables like carrots, celery, or mushrooms to the stew for extra nutrition and flavor.

– Spices: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices to make this dish your own. Some popular options include paprika, cumin, and bay leaves.

No matter what substitutions or variations you choose, the most important thing is to make this dish your own and enjoy the process of cooking and sharing it with others.

Serving and Pairing

“Take a bite of this classic dish and be transported to grandma’s kitchen.”

Boova Shenkel, or Boys’ Legs with Beef and Potato Dumplings, is a hearty and comforting dish that is perfect for cold weather or when you’re looking for a filling meal. This dish consists of beef stew and potato dumplings that are essentially giant, oversized pierogis. The meat is covered in water and broth, then seasoned to taste and cooked slowly for 2 to 3 hours until tender.

When it comes to serving and pairing this dish, there are a few options to consider. First, you can serve the Boova Shenkel on its own, with the dumplings and meat in one dish. Alternatively, you can serve the meat and dumplings separately, which allows your guests to customize their own plates.

To pair with Boova Shenkel, you can choose a few different options depending on your taste preferences. One classic pairing is a crisp green salad with a tangy vinaigrette dressing. The freshness of the salad will complement the richness of the meat and dumplings, while the acidity in the vinaigrette will cut through the richness of the dish.

Another great option is a side of roasted vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, or Brussels sprouts. Roasting the vegetables will bring out their natural sweetness and add a nice texture contrast to the dish.

Finally, you can serve Boova Shenkel with a glass of red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. The tannins in the wine will help to cut through the richness of the meat, while the fruit notes will complement the flavors in the dish.

Overall, Boova Shenkel is a classic Pennsylvania Dutch dish that is perfect for a cozy family dinner or a special occasion. With the right pairings, you can elevate this dish to a new level of flavor and enjoyment.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

“Melt-in-your-mouth beef and fluffy potato dumplings – a match made in heaven.”

Boova Shenkel is a hearty Pennsylvania Dutch dish that consists of beef stew and oversized pierogi-like potato dumplings. It’s a perfect comfort food for a cozy night in. If you have leftovers or want to make it ahead of time, storing and reheating it is quite simple.

To store Boova Shenkel, let it cool first and then transfer it to an airtight container. It can last up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. If you want to store it for longer, you can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Just make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

To reheat Boova Shenkel, you can either do it on the stove or in the microwave. If you’re reheating it on the stove, add a little bit of water or broth to the pot and heat it on medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. If you’re using a microwave, transfer the desired amount to a microwave-safe dish and heat it up for a few minutes until it’s hot all the way through.

One thing to note is that the potato dumplings may become a bit softer after reheating, but they will still taste delicious. If you want to avoid this, you can reheat the beef stew and the dumplings separately.

Overall, Boova Shenkel is a great dish to make ahead of time and store for later. It’s perfect for meal prepping or for those busy weeknights when you don’t have time to cook from scratch.

Tips for Perfect Results

“Impress your dinner guests with this delicious and unique recipe.”

To ensure the perfect Boova Shenkel, boys’ legs, with beef and potato dumplings recipe, I have some tips for you. Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing this dish.

Firstly, make sure to cook the stewing beef slowly for 2-3 hours. This will allow the meat to become tender and juicy. I recommend using a Dutch oven to slow cook the meat. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can use any heavy-bottomed pot with a lid.

Secondly, when cooking the potatoes for the dumplings, make sure to cook them until they are tender. Overcooked or undercooked potatoes can ruin the texture of the dumplings. You can check if the potatoes are done by piercing them with a fork. If the fork goes through the potato easily, it is done.

Thirdly, don’t forget to season the dish properly. Add salt and pepper to taste, and don’t be afraid to add other seasonings that you like. Some minced onion and parsley can add a nice flavor to the dish.

Fourthly, for the dumplings, make sure to use cold water when mixing the dough. This will help the dumplings to be fluffy and tender. Also, don’t overwork the dough, as this can make the dumplings tough. Just mix until the dough comes together, and then let it rest for a few minutes before shaping the dumplings.

Finally, if you want to make this dish ahead of time or have leftovers, store the meat and dumplings separately. This will prevent the dumplings from getting soggy. You can reheat the meat and dumplings separately in the microwave or on the stove.

By following these tips, you can make sure that your Boova Shenkel, boys’ legs, with beef and potato dumplings recipe turns out perfectly every time.


As a chef, I know that many questions might come up when trying out a new recipe. That’s why I’ve created this FAQ section to address some common concerns and questions about the Boova Shenkel – Boys’ Legs – Beef with Potato Dumplings recipe. Take a look and let’s see if we can clear up any doubts you might have.

What is Boova Shenkel?

Boova Shenkel is a classic meal from the Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine that combines beef stew with potato dumplings that resemble oversized pierogis.

What is boys legs for the dumplings that resemble short thick legs?

During the period leading up to Easter known as Lent, it is common to serve a traditional dish called Boova Shenkel. The name of the recipe, which translates to “boys’ legs,” is derived from the appearance of the dumplings that resemble thick and short legs.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Boova Shenkel – Boys’ Legs – Beef With Potato Dumplings Recipe is a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dish that is hearty, comforting, and delicious. The dish consists of beef stew with potato dumplings that essentially resemble giant oversized pierogis. The meat is covered with water and broth, and seasonings are added to taste. The dish is cooked slowly for 2-3 hours until the potatoes are tender, and it is traditionally served with potato salad.

This recipe is perfect for anyone who loves beef and potatoes, and it’s a great way to warm up on a cold winter day. The recipe is simple to make, and the ingredients are all readily available at your local grocery store. You can also customize it to your liking by adding your favorite vegetables or spices.

I highly recommend trying this recipe out for yourself and sharing it with your family and friends. Not only is it a delicious and filling meal, but it also has a rich history and cultural significance. So go ahead and give Boova Shenkel – Boys’ Legs – Beef With Potato Dumplings Recipe a try, and experience the taste of traditional Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine.

Boova Shenkel – Boys’ Legs – Beef With Potato Dumplings Recipe

A thrifty way to stretch a meal. From the Pennsylvania Dutch chapter of the United States Regional Cookbook, Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago, 1947,

  • 3 lbs stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • water or broth

Mashed Potatoes

  • 12 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 1 onion, peeled and minced
  • 3 eggs


  • 2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons shortening or 4 tablespoons butter
  • 7 -8 tablespoons cold water

Milk Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter or 3 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 1 cup dry bread, diced
  • 1/2 cup milk
  1. Cover meat with water or broth; add seasonings to taste and cook slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  2. Cook potatoes until tender.
  3. Drain; add butter, salt and pepper to taste, parsley and onion.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Beat eggs; add to potatoes and beat mixture lightly.
  6. Let stand until pastry is made.
  7. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
  8. Cut in the 4 tablespoons shortening or butter and add water, using only enough to hold dough together.
  9. Roll thinly on a floured board and cut into 10" circles (you can use a dinner plate as a guide).
  10. Spread with some of the potato mixture; fold dough to form a semi-circle, pressing edges together with the prongs of the fork.
  11. Place on top of the hot meat and broth, cover pot tightly and simmer about 25 minutes.
  12. While these are cooking, make a sauce of butter or bacon drippings; add bread cubes and brown. Stir in milk.
  13. Arrange the boova shenkel on a platter and pour milk sauce over.
Main Course
< 4 Hours, From Scratch, Healthy, Inexpensive, Kid-Friendly, Meat, Pennsylvania Dutch, Savory

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