There’s no dinner that isn’t improved with some delicious mashed potatoes. But, this German recipe for heaven and earth potatoes (or “Himmel und Erde”) has a few extra things going for it that that no other mashed potato recipe has. Heaven is for the apples and earth is for the potatoes, but for me the real heaven is the caramelized onion topping.
First off it’s not just potatoes that get peeled, chopped, cooked, and then mashed. The addition of apples in this dish lends a lovely freshness to the potatoes, but never overpowers them. For this recipe I used Granny Smith apples and cut them into slightly larger pieces than the potatoes since they will soften more quickly in the boiling water.
Also, it’s important to put a generous amount of salt in with the apples and potatoes as this helps to season them. Once they are fork tender then it’s time to drain them, add butter, and dill weed and get to mashing. The apples come out of the pot really moist, so you don’t need to add any milk here.
Some recipes call for nutmeg instead of dill and you also choose just a little bit of garlic powder instead. It’s a versatile recipe, but simplicity is key to letting the flavors of the apples, potatoes, and onions shine through. Because of this I like to pick one spice and keep going.
For extra smooth potatoes you can run them through the food processor quickly before returning to the hot pan. Keep them covered while you make the topping.
The best part for me is the onions. You’ll need to chop up two onions and sauté them in butter. The key with this part is to really let them cook in the skillet a while. They need to be in the pan a long time before they get brown, sweet, and just a little crispy around the edges.
To deepen the flavor sometimes I’ll add just a splash of soy sauce, but that’s obviously not a traditional German ingredient.
Once the onions are done you can serve them on top of the potatoes in a big serving bowl or you can spoon some over each individual serving of mashed potatoes. I served mine alongside green beans and sausage, but this is a recipe that goes well with just about everything. And, it goes perfectly with traditional German frikadellen, too. Once you try it you’ll see just how good heaven and earth are together on a plate.
German “Heaven and Earth” Potatoes
20m prep time
35m cook time
- 3 large Russet potatoes
- 2 Granny Smith or Braeburn apples
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon salt, plus extra for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
- 2 small onions, sliced
- Peel and cube potatoes. Peel and slice apples into wedges. Pour salt into large saucepan or stockpot along with apples and potatoes. Add just enough water to cover apples and potatoes. Bring to a low boil and cook until fork tender, about 10-15 minutes.
- Drain and return to pot along with 2 tablespoons butter. Mash well until no lumps remain. Season with more salt, pepper, and dill. Cover and set aside.
- In a large frying pan heat remaining butter over medium-high. Add onions and cook until crispy, about 15-20 minutes.
- Reheat potatoes if needed, adding a tiny amount of water if they get too dry. Serve potatoes with onions on top- a little bit of heaven and earth together.
Recipe adapted from Quick German Recipes.