Sunday, 10 April 2011

A Spaetzle Saturday. . .

Some days it's all about the quest for that perfect meal.
Yesterday morning, I was reading one of my favourite food blogs - Smitten Kitchen - and there was this post about how to make spaetzle, a type of German noodles that I'd never heard of or tasted before. As someone who has long wanted to try making homemade pasta but who lacks the required counter space, equipment and patience, this seemed a perfect and easy alternative. However, as the blogger rightly pointed out, it helps to have a Spaetzle Maker.

I was shortly due to meet a friend for a long walk, en route to a farmer's market (where a basket of organic onions would come in handy later). Enthusing about my sudden obsessive need to make spaetzle that night (which she completely understood; she's known me too long), I enlisted her help in checking out several local kitchen gadget stores in search for this elusive tool. Either the spring weather has created spaetzle fever, or Smitten Kitchen has a lot of Toronto readers, but I heard from more than one retailer that they'd either just sold out, or didn't carry them, but had recently had inquires. I'd nearly given up, but thankfully I remembered The Pepper Mill and yes, they had them (see above) and yes, they still have more in stock.

Okay, so why did this recipe torment me all day, apart from the fact that it's really fun to say?

1. Easy ingredients. Flour, eggs (a lot of them - I used Omega 3 ones) and milk. Combine.

2. They are so much fun to make! Once the batter has cooled in the fridge for an hour, you just bring a large pot of salted water to boil, put the spaetzle maker over the top and pour the batter into the little box. Then you slide the box back and forth and the batter falls through the holes into the hot water, creating little squiggles of noodles.

3. They cook incredibly fast. You'll know when they're done when they rise to the top like this. It only takes a minute or two. I did them in several batches, or else it gets too crowded.

4. They are so versatile. Drain them in a colander and then you can use them in any recipe calling for pasta. I fried up some onions and pancetta in some melted butter and then added the spaetzle, some ground pepper and thyme and there was the dinner I'd been happily anticipating all day.

5. As hoped, it was absolutely delicious!

A couple of things to note. The recipe which I followed from the Smitten Kitchen post above, makes a LOT of spaetzle. It could easily serve four if used as the main dish, and six-eight if you were serving is just as a side dish. I'm going to use the leftovers to bake a large Spaetzle n' Cheese dish for dinner tonight. I may never buy macaroni again. Also, when moving the spaetzle maker back and forth, be careful so that the batter doesn't go down the side of the pot where it'll hit your stove element and start to burn. It did get a bit messy at times and you have to work fast, but it was completely worth it.

UPDATED: I used the leftover spaetzle in place of macaroni and it was fantastic. The spaetzle doesn't dry up overnight and takes the sauce really well. It just adds an extra creaminess to the whole dish. This is definitely replacing my old Mac n' Cheese standard.

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