Monday was Germany. My dinners sometimes are spurred by something I read that stirred my curiosity or a dish somebody mentioned. Unless I am entertaining, I only cook twice a week (the rest of the time it’s just a bowl of cereal and a cup of rooibos) so I must make it interesting.
Recently, a colleague mentioned spaetzle, which brought to the surface of my dim memory dinners in mountaintop chalets in Tyrol when I was a kid, several feet of snow outside and delicious, hot and heavy dishes inside.
Spaetzle (which translates to little sparrow) is, essentially, a home made egg noodle. In Germany, at least in Sud -Tyrol, spaetzle machines can easily be found in most homes but all you need is either a colander with largish holes or a potato ricer. I went with the base of a pizza dish which had nice, large holes. Traditionally, spaetzle is mixed with browned onions and cheese and served as a side dish. I served it as a main course by adding some sausages to it and baking everything in the oven but, once the noodles are cooked, you can sautee the whole thing in a pan and just serve it.
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 1/4 C flour
1/4 ts nutmeg
8 oz Emmenthal cheese, grated
3/4 to 1 C milk
2 your favourite sausage links, if using
- Brown the onion on medium heat until nicely caramelized. Add salt to taste. If using, cut the sausage into chunks and cook them in a pan until nicely browned.
- Combine flour, nutmeg and salt.
- In a different bowl, whisk eggs and milk (start with 3/4 cup). Add wet ingredients to dries and mix with a spatula. The batter should look like a thick pancake batter – add a little more milk if too stiff.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and place a colander on it (or use the potato ricer over it). Press some of the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, through the holes. The spaetzle, like gnocchi, is cooked when the little sparrows come floating to the top.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a large, flat dish covered with a cotton towel.
- Combine spaetzle, onions, and 3/4 of the cheese (and sausage) in a bowl, then transfer to a gratin dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted.
- Alternatively, put all the ingredients in a sautee pan and cook on medium heat until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.