It's so easy - to make. It's so easy to fall in love - with spaetzle! Sometimes I find myself thinking that because a food is ethnic, it has to be difficult. Which is ridiculous because there are lots of examples where that's not true. But, still - sometimes I hesitate. No need to hesitate with spaetzle. This German staple is not only easy, but quick as well! Lightning quick! And versatile. Add it to soups in place of rice or pasta - or serve as a side dish. Did I mention that it's so doggone easy?
So my ancestry is German.
I have it coming at me from both parents. It was one of my earliest identifiers. My maternal grandfather would speak the language now and then. I used to hang out with him while he worked on cabinets and such out in his garage/shop. Sometimes the hammer would slip or some other mishap would happen. He'd say some German words in frustration. Those are among the first German words I learned - and remembered. Funny how kids pick up on THOSE words first, right? Luckily, I never shared the words with others. I just whispered them to myself and wondered.
I eventually took German in junior high. When the teacher handed out the text books I was able to translate what my grandfather had said. Except the vocabulary section didn't have one of the words. So I raised my hand and asked! The teacher's eyebrows shot up. Hesitation. He declined to give me an answer and suggested that the word sounded very much like the english translation. With that clue I figured it out rather quickly. Bonus! First day of class and I already knew how to swear! Ha!
I love all the food from my heritage - except the pickled pig's feet. NO, THANK YOU! OK, I haven't even tried them but it's not going to happen. Just - no.
But, say the word "spaetzle" and you have my complete and undivided attention. I've been very fortunate because my aunt has sent me some of my family's recipes - and this spaetzle recipe I'm sharing with you today is one of them. Now you get to be fortunate, too! Thank you, thank you, Aunt Linda!
Spaetzle is a German noodle. But don't get ideas of having to roll out a dough and cutting and drying. This is a noodle that is more of a batter and it's deposited into simmering liquid in little drops. All sorts of devices can be used to drop the batter. I found this contraption at a kitchen needs store.
Basically, you just need something with holes in it that you can scrape the batter through. My aunt says she uses one of those pizza pans that have holes in it. My gadget is very similar to that idea. You just rest the flat perforated surface over a pan with simmering water and use the flat edge of a bowl scraper or spatula and push the batter around and through the holes. I've also seen folks use colanders as well as a flat cheese grater-like unit that has a cup to hold the batter which you move back and forth over the holes. In culinary school they had a device that looked like one of those hand-cranked cheese shredders. As you turned the handle, it cranked out drops of the batter. Personally, I like the flat-surface-with-holes idea. It worked so slick. The batter was completely pushed through in no time.
The drops of batter cook very quickly and almost immediately float up to the top. If you're making spaetzle for soup, then you will be dropping the batter into the simmering soup right before serving. It cooks in just a couple minutes.
For a side dish, I cook the spaetzle in a large pan of simmering SALTED water, then scoop them out when they surface and place in a colander to drain.
At this point it's just boiled. Which is fine. You can eat them as a side dish as is - with some butter and salt and pepper, of course! However, I really like to take mine one step further and saute them in a little butter and sprinkle with fresh parsley. I use a cast iron skillet but any frying pan will do.
And what would one serve with spaetzle? How about some brats?
Those in the picture are those chicken and apple ones by Aidell's you find at Costco. You could also serve them with pork chops, chicken, steak, meatballs with gravy. Anything!
I had some family in town a couple weeks ago and didn't want to spend all my time in the kitchen. I was able to serve a hearty meal of brats and spaetzle in no time at all. It disappeared almost as fast as it took to prepare!
My mind is already in motion with ideas of how I'm going to switch these up - both savory AND sweet! Don't be surprised if you see some more spaetzle posts in the future!
makes 3 side dish servings or enough for one pot of soup
1 c. flour (125 g)
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 pinch white pepper
1/4 c. milk (I used skim)
Whisk together the flour, nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Set aside.
Beat the eggs and then stir in the milk and mix. Add to the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. It will look like grainy mustard - but with a sticky batter consistency.
Bring a pot of water or soup to a boil then turn down to simmer. Season the water with salt. Add the batter in drops, using a perforated pan or a spaetzle gadget. As the spaetzle float to the top, give a couple stirs. After all the spaetzle have surfaced, scoop them out and drain in a colander.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add a couple tablespoons of butter. When the butter has melted, add the strained spaetzle to the pan and sauté for about 3 - 4 minutes - until some start to get some brown caramelization on them. Remove from the skillet and season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. Dig in!