Friday, February 16, 2007

The Spaetzle Experiment

It's been a while since I checked another cookbook of my list. Cooking on a budget has had me reign in the number of new recipes I'm trying, so I haven't felt much like flipping through my cookbook collection. Today though, I was determined to find something that I wanted to make. I spent a long time curled up with a pile of cookbooks, looking for a new recipe that met the only criteria I had- I must have everything on hand to make it. I also wanted to find something that wasn't a baked good, since I also had a pumpkin pie in the works for today. It was in Sara Moulton Cooks At Home that I found today's new recipe for Herbed Spaetzle.

I have never made spaetzle, but I have certainly seen it done a few times on various cooking show. Spaetzle are a German noodle that is made by dribbling tiny bits of a basic dough into boiling water. There are specific spaetzle makers out there, but the different recipes I looked at assured me that I could use a colander for much the same effect. Yeah... The dough was easy enough, eggs, flour, salt, and water mix to form a thick pancake-like batter. Then the dough is basically grated through a colander to get these little nubbins of dough in the water. That was a lot more difficult than I'd anticipated. First I tried using a steamer basket, since it actually fit the pot I was using. The problem there being that the dough was beginning to cook in the steamer basket, and the holes were a little small too. So I switched to a colander, but I'd failed to think about the logistics of holding a colander in one hand over boiling water while forcing little beads of dough with the other... I scalded my hand a few times trying to wrangle this dough into it's bathwater.

Eventually though, I did end up with a pot of spaetzle. I ran it under cold water to stop the cooking and put it in the fridge until dinner time. One big benefit to spaetzle is that it can be prepared ahead of time. When the chicken was ready, I melted butter and olive oil together in a saute pan to cook up the spaetzle for dinner- adding a pinch of salt and pepper. The only change I made to the recipe was in the chives called for. I didn't have any, so I used some dried ones IN the dough instead of fresh on top- the substitute worked just fine, in my opinion. The end result? Well, we have mixed reviews here. I enjoyed the spaetzle. I thought it was a completely different side dish, and was a nice change. Zander took a big bite and told me he liked it, but never went back for more. Andy did not enjoy it. Whether it was texture or flavor, I didn't ask, but when I asked what he thought, it took a while for him to answer, followed by "nah", so that's clearly not a good sign. I may try a different recipe at some point in time. But for now, the spaetzle is not a repeater- although like I say, I thought it was good, and would consider making it just for myself sometime- it would be awesome topped with a bit of cheese I think.

I did get the recipe for Herbed Spaetzle in The Recipe Trove for anyone interested. I will say that I am emboldened by this recipe attempt today, and on the horizon I'm seeing myself attempting some more pasta-like creations. A few things I'd like to try making include gnocchi and dumplings. I also think a new batch of pirogi will be in the works shortly. How could you not love pasta in all it's disguises!

I'm not sure I'll have another chance to post this weekend. Abigail seems to have come down with the flu tonight, so Nurse Mommy is on duty until further notice. Happy Weekend!

Editing on Saturday to add that Andy did not care for the texture of the spaetzle. He thought it would have been better had it been crispy- so had I cooked it properly in the saute pan by letting it carmalize, he probably would have loved it. So now I'm thinking that we'll try again sometime.


Robyn said...

I enjoy spaetzle, especially topped with a goulash like dish but agree with your hubby that getting it crispy is the best. Definitely give it a try again.

Erika said...

Thanks for that bit Robyn. I've never had spaetzle before, and I was worried about it turning to mush in the saute pan, so I didn't let it brown and crisp. I'll be trying it again soon.