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.)
Makes about 4-6 Keith-sized servings
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
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.