Friday, December 11, 2009

Making a Spaetztacle!

You may know him as the "scientist," or have read about my imaginary friend "Tim," the Southern bartender/professional mover, but my mystery man is a real living human being, with a real name, and he is coming out strong on the blog with a homemade family recipe. So watch me make a spaetztacle of him!
After a long motorcycle trip down to Florida to visit his parents, Markus came back up to New York with lots of pecan goodies from Georgia and some authentic German recipes courtesy of his Mom. I'm still waiting for my "Dirty South" bumper sticker for my imaginary car, but in the mean time these recipes will do.
There is nothing more worth cherishing than family recipes which are thriving mementos of someone or some time in our lives that we can stir up and in one bite experience the way we felt then. That is the definition of comfort food.
Markus grew up eating Kasespatzle or Cheese Spaetzle. Spaetzle is a traditional German egg noodle. Before this feast, I had very little spaetzle exposure, and I had never made any type of homemade noodle, so I really had no expectations. It turned out delicious!
In terms of appearance it looks sort of like macaroni and cheese. In terms of cheese and noodle layering and baking technique, its like a German lasagna, but this dish superbly stands out on its own.
There are three major components to this dish, noodles, cheese and onions. Need I say more? Fresh noodles are just so much better than store bought noodles. And the swiss cheese bakes into the noodles in a transcendental way. The whole thing topped with caramelized onions made me break out the mouth shovel. It was just so simple and so good.

Markus, thanks for teaching me how to make spaetzle!

Cheese Spaetzle
3 Onions
4 C. Flour
4 Eggs
1 C. Water
2 tsp. salt plus more for the boiling water
1 block of swiss cheese

Preheat and oven to 375 degree.

Start off by slicing three big onions in half, then into 1/4 inch slices. Sautee them in olive oil until brown and caramelized. They will be ready right before you put the dish in the oven.

Grate a block of swiss cheese. Set aside.

To make the batter you need 4C. flour, 1C. water, 4 eggs and salt. Place everything in a large bowl and mix. This batter needs to be beaten with a wooden spoon more than anything I have ever seen beaten in my life. It needs to be beaten until a big air bubble forms in the middle, a vigorous 10 minute beating will do. The batter takes on a gooey texture.
This is where the excitement begins. If you have a spaetzle machine, this is the time to dust it off. If not, you place about 1/2 C. of batter onto a wooden cutting board, then slice strips of the batter off the board with a knife into salted boiling water. Its a little awkward at first but fun once you get the hang of it. Once the spaetzle float to the top, which take like less than a minute or two, scoop them out with a strainer and into a buttered casserole dish. Top with grated cheese.

Boil more spaetzle and layer with more cheese. Repeat until you have a few layers of cheese and spaetzle then top the whole thing with the caramelized onions.

Bake for about 20 minutes covered. Get your mouth shovel out and serve with a salad.


Rocco Galatioto said...

Can you make spaetztacle "al dente" or is this a concept foreign to German cooking?

Paulie Gee said...

I can hardly wait for Markus to whip me up a dish of that. Once I open he can stop by in the early afternoon and whip some up while we are making the dough and the fresh mootz.

Morta Di Fame said...

Sure! Not a problem. Oh my gosh - I love that: "the fresh mootz!"