Sunday, September 19, 2010

Homemade Spaetzle Recipe

While I was in college, I lived in Germany for six months and developed a great fondness for all sorts of things German, including Spätzle.  In the U.S., "Spätzle" is often written as "spaetzle." My best interpretation of the proper German pronunciation of this word is sch-PEHTZ-luh, although in some areas like Bavaria or German-speaking Switzerland, it may be pronounced sch-PEHTZ-lay or sch-PEHTZ-lee.

Spaetzle is German egg noodles that can be served as either a main dish or a side dish.  Within Germany, this dish is considered to be a Swabian speciality.  As a main dish, spaetzle is often served mixed with melted cheese and caramelized onions and called Käsespätzle (Käse means cheese in German).  As a side dish, the noodles are simply served as is or with a light coating of butter.

The word Spätzle is the diminutive form of Spatz, and it's literally translated as "little sparrow."  This name apparently comes from the fact that manually cut (and cooked) spaetzle batter resembles little sparrows (at least the old Germans must have thought so), hence the cutesy name.  The first time I made this dish, Keith thought that the individual noodles resembled cartoonish little sperms, and said that we were eating "Little Spermies."

(Click on any picture for a larger view and click once more for an even more detailed view.)

Homemade Spaetzle

Makes about 4-6 Keith-sized servings

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I use fat-free milk)

Beat eggs well in a medium bowl.  Mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl.  To the egg bowl, alternately mix in dry ingredients and milk until the batter is smooth and just slightly thicker than typical pancake batter.  Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes (this relaxes the gluten in the batter).

Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a large pot.  Load about 1/2 cup of batter into your Spätzle Maker* and press/drop the batter into boiling water (be careful, the boiling water steam is hot!).  The noodles will first sink and then float to the surface when they are done (10-15 seconds).  Fish out the finished noodles with a slotted spoon into a colander placed inside a separate bowl (I use the small bowl that initially held the dry ingredients) to drain.  Repeat until all batter is used up.

Finished spaetzle can be served with a quick toss of butter in a skillet as a side dish.

*Some industrious Germans make Spätzle by placing the batter on a special wooden board (Spätzlebrett) and rapidly cutting/scraping it into tiny pieces with a wide knife (Schaber).  For those of us a bit more mechanically challenged in the kitchen, there are many devices created just for spaetzle making, including some pasta makers with special spaetzle attachments.  But if you don't have one, no worries.  You can still make this delicious dish with just a regular kitchen colander (as long as the holes are big enough to push the batter through) or a large slotted spoon (again, with decent-sized holes).

To make Käsespätzle:

3 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 cups shredded good swiss cheese (I use half Emmentaler and half Gruyère)

Caramelize onions by cooking thinly sliced onions and butter in a large skillet over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes, stirring as necessary to avoid burning (I do this at the same time while I'm making the spaetzle noodles).  Mix in finished spaetzle and shredded cheese. Stir to blend everything together and allow the cheese to melt (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat and serve immediately.

It take a bit more effort, but I promise that there's a world of difference between homemade spaetzle and pre-made spaetzle from a box.  It's really delicious!

Note:  I fully intended to make käsespätzle this year with homegrown onions from my garden, but my onions didn't size up properly so I don't have any garden onions.  But if I had garden onions, this would definitely qualify as a garden dinner recipe. :-)

This post is linked to It's a Blog Party and Food on Fridays.


Sherri B. said...

Your Keith, what a nut.

You do a great job of teaching us this recipe. I would love for you to be featured over at The Kitchen Calls and teach us what ever you would like just like you did here, you really are very good at it. Think about it, it can be anytime and there is no rush.

Thank you for taking this time to share your special recipe. It sure looks delicious.

Nartaya said...

Yum! I lived in Germany for 3 years growing up, and I do miss the food! I may have to try this when the weather gets cooler here. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Ribbit said...

Fantastic! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Mr. H. said...

That does look very good and I love the way it is made. Hmm, I think there might be a bit of Spaetzle in my future.:) Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Lexa said...

Wow, what time is dinner? That looks absolutely wonderful! Just wanted to let you know I finally got caught up on blogging this morning and have answered ( I hope) your onion questions on my Tuesday post.

Anonymous said...

This looks very, very tasty! I will have to try to make it very soon. Thank you for detailed recipe and pictures!

upinak said...

Thyme... ohhhh I love this dish. I also love Snitzel (sp) with white gravy. I went over to Germany for a month vacation. I have never been able to find a real snitzel since.

you rock!

meemsnyc said...

Thank you for posting this! I love spaetzle but never knew how to make it! I must try this recipe.

~Holly~ said...

Yummy!! Looks delicious and you rock for making those from scratch! =0)

Wendy said...

This looks really yummy! I didn't know it was made in that way - thanks for the photos! I think I will definitely try this fun to make dish.

Love the new photo in your header too!

Kelly @ The Startup Wife said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Apple Pie Gal said...

Whoa! Double Whoa! Can I just tell you how impressed I am that you own a Spaetzle making GADGET???

I loved traveling Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Took pictures of all my food before I ate it and of course this was one of my favorites!

Bought the GADGET when I got home and looove to make it! I will give your recipe a try!

Good Job!!!

thyme2garden said...

Sherri - thank you so much for the invite! I'll definitely think about it and see if I can come up with something for you.

* * * * *
Nartaya - yeah, this is definitely more suitable as comfort food on a cool night. Where did you live in Germany? It's often difficult to find good German restaurants, even in big cities. There just aren't that many of them around!

* * * * *
Ribbit - You're very welcome! I totally thought of you when I put this post together. I was going to email you about this post, but I see that you beat me to it and have already seen it. :)

* * * * *
Mr. H. - I sure hope you'll try this recipe. Please let me know how it goes for you!

* * * * *
Lexa - I did see your answer to the onion post. I may have a few more questions for you, because I'm a bit confused about how some onion bulbs grow underground and others grow just above ground like yours.

* * * * *
vrtlarica - Thank you! I would love to know how it turns out for you!

* * * * *
upinak - Thank you! A month vacation in Germany sounds wonderful.

* * * * *
meemsnyc - I hope you do try it!

* * * * *
Holly - Thank you! I feel that this is one of those dishes where there's just no comparison between making it from scratch vs from a box.

* * * * *
Wendy - Thank you! I've had the header photo for a few weeks now. You must come back and visit more often. :-)

* * * * *
Kelly - oh this is THE thing to satisfy your carb lust, as well as your melty cheese lust if you ever have it. Let me know how it goes for you!

* * * * *
The Apple Pie Gal - I'm so glad that I could impress you! If you have a different recipe that you like, please email me, I would love to try out different recipes. I have read that some basic German recipes use just flour, eggs and water, and skip everything else.

Frugal Gardener said...

Oh my goodness. I am making this tonight for sure. Looks delicious!!!

thyme2garden said...

Frugal Gardener - let me know if this turned out well for you!

Inspired2cook said...

Yumm...looks delish! I've never made spaetzle before. It would be perfect for an upcoming Octoberfest party we'll be attending!

thyme2garden said...

Inspired2cook - hope you and your Oktoberfest party enjoy this dish!

Kelly @ The Startup Wife said...

I am totally making this for dinner tonight =) about to start, and can't wait!

thyme2garden said...

Kelly, good luck! I hope it turns out well for you. Let me know how it goes, maybe with pictures on your own blog! :)

michaela gray said...

Just finished dinner and let me tell you all that it was absolutely delish!!! I fixed a huge pork roast a couple of days ago and today I finished it off with making a gravy and managed to make these delicious Spaetzle while I made the gravy for the roast.Oh my goodness....wowwwwww :)
I made the Spaetzle like the original here, then I browned some bacon and onion and finished melting a bit of Parmesan cheese after adding the Spaetzle back into the mix.....what a TREAT! Thank you for this absolutely delightful and scrumptious dinner.....yummmmm :)

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