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Friday, December 3, 2010

Apple Caraway Spaetzle

Recently during an annual pilgrimage to Lincoln Square in Chicago for German food and boots of beer, we were disappointed to find our spaetzle looking like a bowl of spaghetti.  It's funny how much memory, expectation and recognition plays a part in taste. 

To be fair, making spaetzle the traditional way (with a board and pastry cutter) takes a nimble German grandmother and the patience of a saint; of which I am neither. Of course, you can purchase a 'spaetzle maker' which is basically a German-engineered Grandma,  but you won't be able to use this item for anything else.  As much as I like gadgets - this is not a practical purchase for most, even if it is only ten bucks.

So then, how to make spaetzle sans tradition... but so it's easy and yet it still resembles spaetzle?  I have two options for you below- a colander or a potato ricer. The actual dough itself is a breeze (flour, eggs and milk), it's like pasta only easier.

Don your alpine feather hat, fill your boot with beer, and belly with spaetzle - it's Fat and Happy German style

Tips and Techniques: I love a big bowl of spaetzle by itself, but it does pair nicely with sausage, pork and chicken.

Apple Caraway Spaetzle

1 cup flour
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
fresh black pepper
2 eggs
1/4 milk
1 tsp caraway seeds, smashed
3 Tbls apple cider (or juice)
2 Tbls butter, (one Tbls should be melted)
small handful of chopped parsley or chives (2-3 Tbls)

Place the flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a bowl, toss lightly with a fork. Add the eggs and milk. Stir with a fork just enough to moisten and combine everything. Add in the one tablespoon of melted butter, stir. Set the mixture aside for 15 minutes. In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a boil and smash the caraway seeds either using a mortal and pestle or a rolling pin.

Using a colander: Place a small scoop of the spaetzle dough in the colander, hold the colander over the boiling water and push the dough through the holes using a flexible scraper or spatula. The spaetzle will float in a just a minute- remove them from the water using a slotted spoon before reloading the colander, repeat until the dough is used up. 

Using a potato ricer: Place a scoop of the spaetzle dough in the potato ricer, hold the ricer over the boiling water and begin pushing the dough through the holes. Use a knife to slice the spaetzle off from the ricer.The spaetzle will float in a just a minute- remove them from the water before reloading the ricer, repeat until the dough is used up.

Drain the spaetzle on a clean kitchen towel for a minute, this will help remove some of the water so they can brown quicker.  Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a fry pan with the crushed caraway seeds until hot and bubbly (but do not brown the butter) over medium high heat, add in the spaetzle.  Cook about 5 minutes and toss a few times so some of the spaetzle begin to brown.

Add in the apple cider, simmer for a minute to warm the cider.  Pour into a serving bowl and top with the chopped parsley or chives.

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