Spätzle a la Suppenküche

by Jeanne

   Spat_collage

Willkommen to a new cooking frontier that has long stopped me cold. Spätzle.  Recently fate knocked on my door, when I was assigned this dish as my ticket in for a dinner gathering of food bloggers. Eek.

Long a comfort food in southern Germany Spätzle, it is a delicacy traditionally associated with the regional area of Swabia. In the northern part of the country you are more likely to find potatoes. Today this pasta, however,  is eaten all over Germany. Spätzle literally translated means "little sparrows" in the Southern dialect, it consists of tiny noodles or dumplings made of flour, eggs, water or milk, salt and occasionally nutmeg.  The measure of a quality tasting Spätzle, is found in the number of eggs used.

Maybe fear is too strong a word.  It is more of an equipment obstacle — the single purpose utensil, a Spätzle press.  In the IBK I have a philosophy: in order to keep my sanity and efficiency in check all kitchen tools should have at least two, if not three, purposes.  The press is similar to a potato ricer but has larger and fewer holes.  The dough is extruded out and into simmering salted water. What else would you ever use that for?!

After reading many recipes of varying ratios of egg to flour I arrived at a recipe from Suppenküche a popular New German restaurant in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. I’ve tasted this pasta several times since its opening in 2003. The restaurant remains a favorite not only for it’s unique contemporarizing quality but most likely due to its selection of beers.  As this recipe requires six eggs I knew it had to be good.

A reported 40,000 tons of Spätzle are produced in Germany each year. Of course, this figure does not include the many homemade batches of Spätzle everyday. And yes I can now see why it could and can be made every day. I used the colander to press the thick batter into the simmering water. Now that I have overcome this silly bit of intimidation preparing Käsespätzle  {Off the Broiler-instructional vlog} or maybe even that Charlie Trotter recipe, Rack of Lamb with Vegetable Ragout with Mustard Spätzle that now sounds more than within reach.

But the true test? There was hardly any noodles left after the 24 food pros and bloggers finished their goose dinner.

Suppenküche Spätzle

Adapted from Savoring San Francisco by Carolyn Miller & Sharon Smith

6 whole eggs
2 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 to 3/4 cup water

Fill a lrage pot with water. Bring the water to a boil and salt liberally.

While the water comes to a boil prepare the batter.  In a medium-sized bowl beat the eggs lightly. In another bowl combine flour, salt and nutmeg. Gradually add the flour mix to the egg.  Add water spoon by spoon until batter is stiff but smooth.

Using a perforated pan or colander and the ball of your hand, push batter through holes into water that should simmer throughout the whole process, but not boil. You’ll want to do this in 3 shifts.

For best results there should only be one layer of spätzle at a time in the cooking water. Stir the Spätzle with a spoon so that they do not stick together. When they rise to the top they are done. Sometimes this happens to quick, say 45 seconds. Depending on the size of your Spätzle you may need a minute or longer. It’s very similar to cooking Italian pasta. Remove Spätzle from water with a perforated spoon and place in a bowl of iced water to ensure not to overcook the noodles.

To reheat, sauté in a little butter about two minutes; season with fresh chives. Serve.

Advertisements