Spaetzle. Pronounced shpet-zel, rhymes with pretzel. Sounds like the perfect name for a small fluffy dog, or perhaps a mildly derogatory noun in Yiddish. What it really is, though, is a simple delicious dinner of egg, flour, milk, and whatever you decide to pile on top of that. Go make this. 🙂
No, I’m not going to send you off with just that, promise. Spaetzle is ridiculously easy to mix up, but kind of a pain in the butt to actually make. A variety of techniques exist, all of which involve a pot of boiling water, but only one of which I can actually recommend from experience. The technique said to be favored by the Austrian housewives who originated the recipe involves pushing small amounts of batter off the edge of a cutting board with a knife. Being less skilled with knives than most chefs, I went with the other option, involving pushing ribbons of batter through the holes in a spaetzle-making device. Official spaetzle makers are basically large-holed colanders, but any colander should do.
So, it basically went like this.
- Mix two cups of flour, seven eggs, and 1/4 cup of milk in a large bowl. Leave to rest in the fridge for an hour so the batter is easier to spread instead of just drip. (If you’re me, leave to rest for three days because life gets in the way. The extra…seventy-odd hours made no real difference in texture or flavor.)
- When ready to cook, boil large pot of water. Make sure you have a colander that can rest over the pot of water. Find potholders and spatula. Prepare another colander, if possible, for receiving spaetzle; if not possible, prepare large bowl of cold water.
- Set your colander over your pot of water and pour in some of your spaetzle batter. You’re going to be doing this in multiple batches anyway, so don’t over-fill it. Use your spatula and smear the batter around so that it drops through the holes.
- Remove colander when mostly empty, fish out spaetzle with slotted spoon, and dump into draining colander or ice bath. I have never in my life managed to get spaetzle remotely the same size as each other; don’t worry too much about it.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 until out of batter (excepting the batter that’s gummed onto your clothes and hands).
- Leave dishes in sink, and wait a bit for spaetzle to cool.
- Melt some butter in a skillet; add handful of spaetzle to pan. Theoretically, cook them until each piece has a couple brown edges; mine never got there. I think they were still too wet. Regardless, heat your spaetzle in the butter and make them delicious.
- Pile into a bowl, put things on top, and serve. The “things” were mostly fresh herbs I’d snagged at the farmer’s market that morning: chives, dill, and tarragon. I think a little splash of vinegar might also go nicely, and since this is a neutral-tasting base as is, go wild! (Sour cream has been suggested as well, and soundly rejected, if only by me. It’s a free spaetzle-plate, though.)