In my slowly continuing recap of a meal we put together for Oct 13th, here are the 4th recipe I'm posting.
You can see the others here:
Today it's all about the Spaetzle.
Pronunciation of the word varies – some say "Spay-tsl" while Bill's mother said "speh-tchle" or something like that. Whatever way you say it, spaetzle = comfort food. Little freshly made noodles or dumplings (depending on how you make them – thin and noodly or thicker and dumplingy) tossed with gravy or even some butter – they are light, pillowy, starchy bites of goodness.
Anyway. I have a feeling Bill's mom put the ingredients together from memory, though he says he saw a recipe. I couldn't find it, but this is a good, workable ratio of ingredients:
2 tablespoons of freshly rendered lard (actually i think we used bacon fat, you can use oil if you want, or melted and cooled butter)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Beat the first 4 ingredients (all the wet ingredients)together in a bowl. In another bowl, stir together the last 3 ingredients (the dry ones). Then blend the dry mixture into the wet mixture and set aside. How easy is that?
Get a big pot of water boiling and add in some salt – about 2 teaspoons.
Put the bowl of the spaetzle dough (actually, it's rather loose and more like a batter, to me, than a dough) near the stove. You'll also want a slotted spoon handy, and a bowl to put the cooked spaetzle in.
Now here's the tricky part. You can use a spaetzle press if you have one (we don't) or a ricer. We tried the ricer:
but the batter was too thin and it all just smushed back together before it hit the water. We tried a collander as well, with the same unsatisfactory result. I suggested we add a little more flour to thicken it, but my idea was dismissed. I still think it would have worked. But what do I know.
So – it was back to basics time.
Bill's mom always used a spaetzlebrot or spaetzle board. We have hers, and this is what it looks like:
Now, Bill's the one who has actually made the spaetzle, and so has his nephew, Joe. Joe was here for the dinner that night, and since Bill had other things to attend to, he put Joe in charge of the spaetzle-making. I believe you get the surface of the board a little wet, then put some of the dough/batter on about mid-way. Then, with a knife, you smear some of the batter toward the front (the straight edge) and then slice it and shove it off the end into the boiling water.
See all the little knife lines on there?
You work with a portion of the dough/batter at a time. The spaetzle will sink to the bottom of the water initially, and when they float to the top, they are done. Using your slotted spoon, scoop them out and place in a bowl while you make the next batch.
Unfortunately, I don't have any more pictures of that process. I think I was probably putting the rest of the food on the table or taking knives out of Julia's hands or making faces behind Bill's back for ignoring my additional flour idea. Something like that. But I'll post this picture again of the table of food.
Those two bowls on the right contain the spaetzle, mixed with some gravy from the sauerbraten. My brother-in-law, Jacques, is helping himself to some of the spaetzle.
We will make this again, and when we do, I'll take better pictures, or, actually, MORE pictures, so you can really see the process better.
Next up – the scary foods. I think.