Thursday, March 7, 2013

Little Sparrows in Butter - Spaetzle

It's been a long time in coming.  I figured since I was going to all the trouble of making Sauerbraten, that the perfect side dish would be Spaetzle.  Since my braten is still sauer-ing in the refrigerator, this is the perfect opportunity to blog about these delectable little German sparrows.  For that is what Spaetzle means.... Little Sparrows.  Personally, I don't think they look anything like birds, but who am I to judge?

Spaeztle is a form of egg noodle flavored with nutmeg; at least in it's basic form.  So the ingredient list is fairly short - eggs, milk, flour, salt and nutmeg.  Now as far as how to form noodles?  Well, opinions abound as to how it should be done.
  • You can smear the dough across a board and cut spaetzle into a pot of boiling water with a knife.  
  • You can use a press (that looks like a potato ricer).  
  • You can even go to a kitchen gadget store and purchase a "spaetzle grater" contraption.  
Honestly, though I am all for cool kitchen gadgets and stuff, I prefer to use what I already have lying around.  A rubber spatula and my steamer insert from one of my pots.  The holes in the bottom are JUST the right. (which happens to be 1/2 cm or about 1/4 inch in width) You can also make use of a colander as long as there are enough holes in the bottom and they are a little on the larger side. 

I simply hold the steamer insert over the boiling water and press the batter/dough through the holes with my spatula in a sweeping motion.  Simple, easy and no special gadgets need apply.

Afterwards, I like to saute them briefly in butter and sprinkle with a little German cheese such as Bergkase.  Noodle Nirvana!


(with Bergkase)
2 large Eggs
59 ml (2 oz) (1/4 cup) Whole Milk
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp White Pepper, ground
1/4 tsp Nutmeg, grated
127g (4.5oz) (1 cup) AP Flour
3 quarts Salted Boiling Water
2 TB Unsalted Butter
Bergkase, grated

First, combine the Eggs, Milk, Salt, Pepper and Nutmeg in a medium bowl.

Whisk everything together until well combined.

Add the Flour and stir (with a spatula, not a whisk - I forgot to remove it) until......

you have a soft, somewhat sticky, dough.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the gluten in the flour to relax a little.

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and salt liberally (make it like the ocean)

Grab your steamer insert or a colander.....

(the holes should be at least 1/2 cm or a little less than 1/4 inch in diameter)

Place it over the boiling water and load it up with the  chilled dough.

Rub your spatula back and forth to force the batter through the holes.

Boil the spaetzle for about 4 minutes (or until they float)

Meanwhile, begin heating 2 TB Butter in a large skillet set over medium flame.

Remove the spaetzle from the water with a skimmer.

Add to the hot skillet and toss with the melted butter.

Remove from the heat when all glossy with buttery goodness.

Finish off with some grated Bergkase if you like.

MMMMMMM  and now for a totally gratuitous extreme close-up.....
Fütterung der Raubtiere!!


Patricia Taylor said...

I loooooove spaetzle. I have used my colander in the past to make them, but it just wasn't very easy since the bottom isn't flat. Why oh why didn't I think about a steamer insert?? Genius. Since German food is typically "heavy" I always crave it in the colder months, guess I better get cracking before the warmer weather hits. Thanks for this great idea and recipe. I never put nutmeg in mine, but think I will try it this way next time.

Christopher said...

It looks tasty, but it also looks like head cheese :)

mlaiuppa said...

Käsespätzle is my most favorite thing in the world. Well, one of them.

I've been to Germany twice and order it often whenever I go.

I've been forced to learn how to make it.

My Mom has a Spätzlebrett so that is what I learned to use watching YouTube videos. I use an offset spatula rather than the shovel thing it comes with. The noodles are a bit irregular but I'm getting better at it. I like this method as then I don't get too many noodles in the pot so they aren't crowded. I skim them off when the float to the top, then repeat until all of the dough is gone. They almost look like the ones I had in Rothenberg. I like using Emmenthaler. I'll make my noodles, carmelize some onions and brown some bread crumbs. Then I'll fry the spätzle lightly in the butter, mix in the onions, then toss with the cheese, reserving a little for the top, sprinkle with the bread crumbs and then just brown it a bit under the broiler to get it melty. A cast iron pan works great for this.

Man, now I want some.