So I was watching Chopped last night (surprise, surprise) and on the episode, one of the contestants made Spaetzle.
Spaetzle? What? And everyone seemed to know what it was.
The contestant dropped ribbons of batter into boiling water, drained them, and then pan-fried them as a bed for whatever the secret ingredient was (duck confit, I think).
It looked really cool to attempt… and easy enough to accomplish!
Apparently I have to get out from under my rock, because according to the interwebs, spaetzle is delicious comfort food originating from Germany (I’m part German…) and brings back fond memories of grandmothers making spaetzle for (others, not me) them as youngun’s.
And guess what, you only need three ingredients.
Unless you make the sauce. Please make the sauce. It’s freakin’ amazing. As the Chopped judges always bemoan, you need a sauce to tie elements of the dish together, to make sense on the plate as a cohesive meal.
Well, I’ve learned my lesson from the many episodes I’ve watched over this summer:
Dropping things on the floor, thus rendering them inedible, and throwing them away, check.
Using all the secret ingredients… which in this case happened to be things that NEED TO BE USED BEFORE BECOMING SPOILED and included: snowpeas, wax beans, heavy cream, and shallots.
And the crowd (er, me and my lunch companion, madame mamadukes) goes wild!
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons Silk unsweetened soymilk
Pinch each of nutmeg, pepper, and salt
Combine all the ingredients and chill for 1 hour or overnight. When chilled, bring a pot of water to boil and prepare an ice bath.
I used a colander for the majority of the batter–what you must do is spoonful some of the batter into a colander with large holes and allow the little batter drips to fall into the boiling water, and cook for at least 30 seconds (longer, up to 5 minutes, if you want a softer spaetzle). But either my batter was too thick, the holes too small… because the resulting driblets of batter looked like reminscent of something else instead of typical spaetzle.
Towards the end, however, I switched and simply used a spoon to drip batter into the boiling water directly–a lot easier, more fun, and more pasta-like.
After cooking, immediately chill in the ice bath and then drain. Storing? Toss with a bit of olive oil to keep from sticking; it’ll keep for a day or two.
Eating? Try this:
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Several cups of spaetzle
1 shallot, minced/diced finely
Two tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons butter or earth balance
Heat earth balance in a large skillet. Add spaetzle (you may need to work in batches), let sit for a minute, and then sauté until golden brown on all edges. Add the shallot and parsley, salt and pepper, and cook a bit longer (about a minute or two). Serve immediately.
Unless you make the…
Mustard Cream Sauce
Adapted from Robert Irvine on Food Network
2 tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter)
1/2 a small yellow onion
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2-3 tablespoons honey dijon mustard
1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
In a small saucepan, sauté the onion in the Earth Balance until it turns brown. Deglaze with white wine; once deglazed, add thyme, mustard, and heavy cream. Stir and lower the heat, cook for 5-6 minutes until thickened. Spoon over spaetzle. Now you can serve.
But don’t forget the…
Pan that you fried the spaetzle in
Boiled/steamed garden veggies such as snowpeas and beans
Simply add the cooked veggies to the pan and toss occasionally until they brown (scorch). Serve with your delicious spaetzle.
I have a thing against ugly food. I’ve cooked a LOT more things this summer than I’ve shown on this blog. This is due to the fact that I only feel like photographing food when it’s pretty, and also due to the fact that I’m hungry and just want food in ma belluh.
I took pictures of this at the last minute, when Mamadukes was like “Did you take pictures yet?” and my blog-guilt set in. But I’m glad I did. Taking pictures of ugly food is probably a good exercise, and makes me get more creative in plating and angles.
That being said, this food tasted anything but ugly. It was SO GOOD!! The spaetzle was delicious and hearty, full of protein (thanks to… whole wheat flour, eggs, and soymilk!) and just screamed comfort food. The sauce… absolutely delicious. It tasted like restaurant sauce… chock-full of FLAVOR. I wish I could have veganized it somehow but I wanted to use up the heavy cream.
I love how simple this dish is (even though it ended up taking me a very long time… but if I make it again, it’ll probably take half the time). Just a few ingredients and you have yourself a meal. I’m building my repertoire of from-scratch grad school eatin’, which currently includes lots of quinoa salads, fried eggs, veggies steamed in the microwave, roasted veggies, and now… spaetzle. Who knew?
I’m also thinking of doing an ancestry series on this blog. I’m German, Irish, Scottish, English and Chinese. Got the German dish down… Next up? If you need me, I’ll be Googling.