Our family cookbook contains no less than three recipes for spatzle. They’re all pretty similar, but just different enough that the author’s names have been removed to prevent any sibling on sibling bloodshed over who’s recipe is closer to great grandma’s.
We take our dumplings very seriously.
Spatzles (pronounced spayt-zle or in my house, spechlies) are the rice and pasta of the Austro-Germanic culinary repertoire — a relatively bland, boiled carbohydrate that soaks up the flavor of whatever it’s paired with. Made with a batter of milk, eggs and flour, they’re the richest of the three, built to stand up to the hearty flavors of everything from spicy paprikash to schnitzel. Not to mention sauerkraut.
Come winter, I start craving them, but they’re usually hard to find outside of Oktoberfest menus and German restaurants.
BarnDiva currently has them on their winter menu, served with golden apples, caramelized onions, golden Chanterelles, black trumpet and hedgehog mushrooms ($24). It’s a haute take on this simple, peasant food with crisped, herbed spatzle and precious veggies from around the North Bay. BarnDiva, 231 Center Street, Healdsburg, 707-431-0100.
I’m also a huge fan of the Cafe Europe’s classic winter dish of wild boar with mushroom sauce and lingonberries. The pea-sized spatzle are solid little dumplings that soak up the kraut, juices and sauce. 104 Calistoga Road, Santa Rosa, 707.538-5255
Or…just make your own.
The best are those I cook at home with paprikash. You
can use a colander or special spatzle maker, but I prefer to do it the
old fashioned way…from a cutting board or plate. These hand-formed
dumplings, right out of the pot, are soft and chewy. You can pan fry
them, however, for a crispier texture.
Spatzle (from our family recipe book)
2 1/8 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup sauteed onions (optional)
1/2 cup butter (optional)
Mix flour and salt together in a bowl, set aside. In another bow, beat
eggs until blended and add milk. Create a well in the flour mixture and
add egg mixture. Beat for 5 minutes with an electric mixer. Let stand
for 30-45 minutes or until most of the bubbles disappear (it’s
important to let the batter rest or it will be gummy).
Bring about 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil. While you’re waiting,
put 1/2 cup melted butter (or so) of butter in a casserole dish and
place in the oven at a low temperature.
Once the water is boiling, pour a small amount of the batter onto a
plate and with the edge of a spoon, push off a piece about 1/2 in long
and the thickness of pencil. Don’t worry about making it too perfect.
You can have 5-6 in the pot at a time, but don’t over-fill. Once the
spatzle float on the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon and
place in your buttered casserole dish. Continue until all the spatzle
are cooked and stir in the butter and sauteed onions. Serve immediately.