What Are Spaetzle Noodles?

One of my guiding principles when dining out is that I have to order the spaetzle if it’s on the menu (aside from leaving a 20 percent tip and requesting sparkling water if it’s free). The rule is simple to follow because, regrettably, spaetzle is rarely offered on the menu.

The handmade, lumpy noodles are common in home cooking in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Think of them as small, imperfect, not-fussy versions of gnocchi. Although “spaetzle” (or “spätzle”) means “little sparrows” in German, their typical appearance is more akin to irregular dough blobs. They are occasionally served with hearty braises, such as the goulash Markus Glocker serves with buttermilk spaetzle at Augustine in New York. Braised rabbit and Brussels sprouts are served with them at the Austrian restaurant Wallsé in New York. They may occasionally be seared in a pan and mixed with sauerkraut, caramelized onions, bacon, or mushrooms. Additionally, they are occasionally baked into käsespätzle, a cheese dish topped with crispy onions and melted Emmentaler.

Spaetzle is not only a difficult dish to find in restaurants, but it is also one of the easiest types of pasta to prepare at home. Typically, making pasta involves creating a dense dough from flour and eggs, which is then worked until your arms feel like they are about to fall off. To make spaetzle, simply combine flour, egg, and a little milk to resemble pancake batter. After that, you add small amounts of the batter to some salted boiling water. The spaetzle are then ready to be scooped out and eaten after briefly floating to the top of the pot.

Eastern European grandmothers prefer the most time-consuming method of making the noodles, which involves scooping the loose batter onto a hand-held wooden cutting board and quickly chopping tiny bits of the dough into the hot water. “It’s not practical for restaurant use,” says J. Spaetzle is served at Kenji López-Alt’s Wursthall restaurant in San Mateo. “We use a spaetzle maker. the kind with a hopper that moves back and forth and resembles a cheese grater ”.

The device resembles a cheese grater and costs about $25 in restaurant supply and kitchen supply stores. It has a small compartment on top for batter, which is pushed across round holes to release uniform drops into the pot below. A tool made specifically for forming a particular type of German dumpling, however, might be difficult to sell if you’re not a fan of single-use technology. The good news is that practically any kitchen tool with tiny, round holes (about a quarter inch in diameter) will function. At Augustine, Glocker uses a perforated hotel pan. I’ve heard that potato ricers work wonders. Colanders are great. A large, perforated metal spoon from the dollar store is my preferred technique.

The noodles’ bumpy surfaces make them perfect for soaking up sauce and cheese, but because they’re a little bit thicker and chewier than typical pasta, they won’t fall apart or disintegrate if you quickly sauté them in a skillet. You can prepare them the evening before and refrigerate them overnight if you plan to crisp them in a pan to serve with an egg for breakfast or serve them to guests in a casserole form.

As long as I have eggs, milk, flour, and salt, I can make spaetzle whenever I want in under 15 minutes with this little one.

Over high heat, bring a sizable pot of salted water to a boil. Place your spaetzle maker over the top.

I don’t typically like kitchen appliances with just one use, but I’m making an exception for this one.

You could serve sauerbraten and fondue, cabbage and German potato salad, and a German apple strudel at your dinner party.

I love serving this with German food. So, for a German meal, try it along with these other German recipes:

Notes and Adaptations:

  • Spaetzle noodles aren’t flat or perfectly shaped. They’re “drop noodles,” which are rustic and irregular in appearance. So don’t stress about what they look like as you’re cutting the dough into the water.
  • However, if you don’t have a press, you can still make spaetzle by steaming them in a large-holed colander or steamer. You probably have one of these at home anyway!.

    If you’ve never tried spaetzle, get ready for a delicious treat. The only homemade spaetzle recipe you’ll ever need is this one, and it’s a great substitute for rice, noodles, or potatoes. Because it can be prepared in advance, making a meal for the entire family is less stressful.

    One of my favorite foods are spaetzle, which go well with anything that has a sauce or gravy, such as goulash or beef stroganoff, but also make a delicious main dish when topped with melted cheese and crispy fried onions or a simple mushroom gravy.

    Spatzen, which translates to “sparrows,” is the larger version that my mother-in-law always makes. They look like small potatoes, taste like the little ones, and don’t require any specialized tools to prepare.

    The German name for them is Knöpfle because they resemble tiny buttons, but the English word Spätzle literally translates to “little sparrows.” In Germany, you can purchase them in a variety of sizes and shapes.

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