Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jeder Liebt Spaetzle!


I once had spaetzle in a German restaurant called Metzger's in Ann Arbor, on a high school German class field trip. I remember being singularly impressed with the subtle flavor and intriguing texture of this "somewhere between a noodle and a dumpling" concoction. In fact, it was the highlight of the meal. The sauerbraten, not so much... I find it interesting that spaetzle hasn't made more of an impression on the American culinary landscape than it has. As a side, it's a worthy competitor to both rice and potatoes, and it embodies the starchy goodness of pasta, with a less toothsome texture and a pleasingly eggy character. As a comfort food it's unparalleled and it stands up well to the microwave the next day. And yet I rarely, if ever, see it on menus or at potlucks.

Long story short, the stuff has been rattling around in my skull now for years, and I finally decided to do something about it a couple weeks back. A quick online search turned up a recipe from a restaurant in Mammoth Lakes, CA called Skadi. A few adjustments later, I've got something I'm pretty happy with. You'd be well advised to give it a try, so follow along if you will:

2 C all-purpose flour
1 C whole milk
3 large eggs, plus one yolk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Beat the eggs, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl, beat in the milk and finally, stir in the flour to form a thick, cakelike batter:


Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil, and use a spatula to push the batter, a small amount at time, through a slotted spoon into the water:


The batter will initially sink, but will rise to the top within a minute or so. Let it continue to cook for another minute before removing it to a bowl. Repeat this process until you've made it through all of the batter, and you'll be rewarded with a nice bowl of fresh, homemade spaetzle, as seen in the photo up top. At this point, I browned some unsalted butter in a large saute pan, threw the spaetzle into it with some herbs, and continued to cook it all for a couple minutes. This worked out well, although you could just brown the butter, toss in the herbs at the last minute, and then pour it over the spaetzle. Either way, some stone ground mustard makes for a nice addition, especially a variety with whole mustard seeds. This makes an excellent side to a nicely grilled pork chop. You could also toss it with a little vinegar of your choosing and perhaps some horseradish, or sprinkle it with olive oil and freshly grated parmesan, or press it into a cake and pan fry it for breakfast with some bacon... The possibilities are pretty much infinite.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds good! I'll have to tell Frau Becker that the field trip made a lasting impression. LGS

tommy said...

Tell her if she checks out the post, she has to leave a snarky comment. Preferably in German...

Risa Dale said...

Is that your Spaetzle or are you just happy to see me?

tommy said...

Buh-dum Ching! Risa Dale, ladies and germs, she'll be appearing at Caesar's all this week...

Julie Ann said...

I just made my Hungarian father-in-law's recipe of this last night to serve with chicken paprikas. I used the spatzle maker he gave me.

tommy said...

Spaetzle maker? You have a spaetzle maker? That is awesome.

Anonymous said...

How long before you get to Kitchen Kaboodle to get one? LGS

Kevin said...

My grandmother has a great spaetzle maker that'll get inherited one day. Until then, I use a potato ricer like this one: http://www.lehmans.com/jump.jsp?itemType=PRODUCT&itemID=1498

tommy said...

I'm gonna have to get online now and look at spaetzle makers...

Julie Ann said...

I'm not sure if you'll like the results. Your dumplings seem much longer than mine. See photo of my paprikas:

http://tinyurl.com/4h5bxb