On our last day of pasta making with Manuelina Culinary, we learned about Northern Italian spaetzle. Spaetzle from Italy? Wha? Sacrilege! After my German incredulity wore off, I conceded that it makes sense. Northern Italy borders both Switzerland and Austria and Germany lies just a hop, skip and jump away. Naturally these dumplings of delight were adopted by the Italians. The Italian adaptation is similar to the German version, but finished by serving the dumplings in a tomato sauce. How very Italiano.
I’d label myself a spaetzle aficionado. I’ve consumed spaetzle in Bavaria and dined on spaetzle with Kalua pork in Maui (Thanks to a fellow Alsatian chef). I’ve gobbled pea-sized versions and spaetzle as fat as Vienna sausages. I’ve prepared spaetzle with a spaetzle maker, colander and with a knife and board. The best spaetzle is twice cooked; first boiled and then finished in a cast iron skillet, sautéed golden brown and crispy in plenty of butter.
I wish I could weave some great story about my mom’s recipe being handed down through the generations, carried aboard the boat that brought my grandparents to America in 1909. Sadly, no. My mom’s recipe came from the Luchow’s cookbook, the famous German restaurant in New York. My mom wanted to recreate dishes from my father’s childhood, so this recipe became a staple in our home sometime after the publish date of 1952.
- 3 1/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups milk
- Salt and Pepper
- Sift flour, salt and nutmeg together.
- Beat eggs and 1 cup milk together.
- Add wet ingredients to dry and combine. Add additional milk until dough resembles a stiff pancake batter.
- Let rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
- Using a spätzle maker, drop the dumplings into the salted water (or force through a colander with large holes). The spätzle will float to the top when cooked. Let boil a minute longer and then transfer to ice water.
- Drain well and saute in butter in a skillet until golden and some pieces are crispy. Season with salt and pepper.