- Course: Main Course
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Moderate
- Favorited: 11 Times
Spaetzle (German, SHPEH-tsluh, “little sparrows”) are Lilliputian dumplings, usually no more than an inch long, like thick threads of cooked dough. Although often sauteed with butter as a side dish, here they’re gussied up to become a main course.
- 2¼ cups all purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup milk: whole, low-fat, or fat-free
- Nonstick spray
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
- 8 ounces cooked country ham, rind removed, the meat diced
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
- ½ pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 cup reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1. Mix the flour, eggs, and milk in a large bowl until you have a sticky, elastic, doughish batter.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. It helps if it’s a tall, thin pot so that the flat grater sits over its opening without your having to hold it in place.
3. Spray a flat grater with wide holes (see Notes) with nonstick spray, then set it over the pot. Scoop out some of the batter with a rubber spatula, maybe about 1/4 cup, and then wipe it across the grater so that small, uneven bits of batter fall through the holes. Don’t let any batter fall over the sides of the grater without going through the holes or these bits will be large, tough lumps. Work quickly and efficiently to get all the batter through the grater and into the water. Don’t panic, but don’t stop. If you find the batter sticking to the grater, give it another spritz with the, nonstick spray.
4. Once all the batter is in little threads in the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a simmer until the bits are tender, about 6 minutes. Drain in a colander set in the sink, then place the dough bits in a large bowl and cover with cool water while you make the sauce.
5. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until softened a bit, about 3 minutes.
6. Stir in the ham bits and the caraway seeds. Cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes, just until the ham is warmed through.
7. Add the mushrooms all at once. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their internal liquid and then that liquid reduces to a glaze, about 7 minutes in all. You’ll notice a definite pickup of liquid in the skillet after a couple minutes. Just be patient until this turns into a thickened glaze-not like shellac, but like a well-tended reduction sauce.
8. Pour in the broth, then add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer.
9. Drain the Spaetzle in a colander set in the sink, then add them to the skillet. Toss and cook to heat through, about 3 minutes. Serve at once.
Bruce is using a technique to make the Spaetzle familiar to many immigrants in America: the dough is wiped over flat grater. One with holes about the size of the larger ones on a box grater. You can find this tool at most kitchenware stores or their online outlets of course, you can also use a fancier spaetzle maker; follow the directions included with your model.
Want a richer dish? Cut the broth down to ½ cup and add ½ cup cream with the remaining, broth.
The dish benefits from some garnish. Consider chopped parsley or even grated nutmeg in a small bowl at the table so everyone can add a pinch. At the very least, give each serving a few grinds of, black pepper.
© 2010 Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
Nutritional information is based on using low-fat milk.