A family emergency — now under control — wrenched me from my kitchen 12 days ago. I am back at home now, slowly picking up the various threads I had to drop suddenly. The first one was a project that had been on my to-do list for a while: Spätzle.
Although I have prepared it to celebrate the Austrian chapter of our virtual European tour, this dish belongs to the culinary tradition of several European countries, including parts of Italy. There are therefore many variations on the basic theme. In an article in which he also gives his recipe, Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck describes Spätzle as "little squiggles of boiled flour-and-egg dough."
While a Spätzle-making tool is not a strict requirement, it makes the preparation easier. The one I purchased is not the only type. If you search for images of "Spätzle maker," you will see a variety of tools whose common characteristic is the presence of holes through which the batter is pushed to drop into boiling water.
Note: the egg and flour mixture used to make Spätzle is referred to as either dough or batter in the various sources I have consulted. It is a thick batter or soft dough, with some variability, depending on the recipe.
Puck's recipe is the one that inspired my version. The most important change I made is the use of some whole-wheat flour (farina integrale). I dressed my Spätzle with burro e parmigiano and served it as a primo piatto, all Italian-style.
Ingredients for the Spätzle (to be mixed in advance):
- 1 large egg
- 60 ml / 1/4 cup milk
- 20 g whole-wheat flour
- 60 g all-purpose flour
- A pinch of fine sea salt
- A pinch of grated nutmeg
Ingredients to dress the Spätzle:
- 1 tablespoon / 14 g browned butter or regular butter
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus to taste
How to make Spätzle
In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg to blend yolk and white. Add the milk and whisk briefly.
Sift flours on the liquid ingredients while stirring with a wooden spoon. Add salt and nutmeg and stir to incorporate.
Refrigerate for at least an hour. (I usually prepare the batter in the morning to cook Spätzle for lunch.)
How to cook Spätzle
Since the Spätzle cook quickly, prepare the ingredients for the dressing before the water comes to a boil. Place butter in a skillet.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Choose the pot so that it fits the Spätzle maker you are using. (My Spätzle maker fits perfectly on my 6-qt. soup pot.) Given the relative small amount of batter, I cook it in one batch.
Pour the batter into the container of the Spätzle maker and slowly slide it from side to side. Drops of batter plunge into the boiling water and then, as they cook, they come to the surface. Use a spatula to press all the batter through the holes. Remove the Spätzle maker and stir the Spätzle to make sure they separate nicely.
In the meantime, melt the butter over low heat.
Cook Spätzle for 2 minutes, then drain. Transfer Spätzle to the skillet with melted butter. Briefly turn up the heat to medium-low and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cheese while stirring Spätzle gently. Plate and sprinkle additional Parmigiano-Reggiano on the Spätzle. Serve immediately.
The recipe makes two portions.
I am glad I got tempted to try my hand at making Spätzle: It is an easy and enjoyable process, though it generates a bit of work for the person in charge of washing dishes — as the portrait of my sink above shows.
I like the irregular, somewaht organic, shape of Spätzle. Their soft consistency finds a good match in the rich simplicity of burro e parmigiano. A comforting dish for a rainy day, like we finally are experiencing in water-starved California.
I contribute my Spätzle to the 19th installment of the Abbecedario culinario della Comunità Europea (European Community Culinary ABC), an event organized by Trattoria MuVarA that will bring us to visit 26 countries of the EU (all except Italy) using the alphabet as guide. S like Sacher Torte (Austria) is hosted by Rosa Maria of Torte e dintorni.
The prortrait of my kitchen sink is my contribution to edition #116 of Black and White Wednesday - A Culinary Photography Event created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, now organized by Cinzia of Cindystar, and hosted this week by Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu.
The photo was shot in color and then converted to black and white (Lightroom preset B&W Look 1).
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the spätzle al burro e parmigiano audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]