A blank canvas

spaetzle

Spaetzle, the German dish that falls somewhere between noodle and dumpling, is a blank canvas upon which you can add layers of texture and flavor. Portland, Oregon chef Dominique Geulin is a huge fan of this versatile dish. "It's like pizza, you just have to figure out what toppings you want," he says. The Alsatian recipe Guelin uses tilts more to the dumpling side of the spaetzle continuum. "Typically in noodle (recipes) you have no dairy, so because of the dairy here, it's maybe a little closer to a dumpling than a noodle," he says.

Making spaetzle traditionally involves a spaetzle maker, which is "essentially a bottomless basket that slides over what resembles a flat cheese grater" and which can be made from anything that has a flat surface and holes large enough for the batter to flow through, like a potato ricer or colander. Use a spatula to push the batter, which should resemble a thick pancake batter, through the holes. "You can always take a squeeze bottle and make a big hole at the end and drizzle into the simmering water," Geulin says. But he warns you to be careful that the batter isn't too runny, or it will fall through too quickly and won't form the tiny pillows that characterize the dish.

Pea spaetzleOnce made, the spaetzle can be shocked in cold water, drained, and stored for several days in the refrigerator. After you create a base of tender spaetzle, the flavor combinations are limited only by your imagination. Geulin's favorite is a traditional pairing of bacon and mushrooms. "It was always our favorite," he says of his family recipe. Lighter options are also delicious; you can pair spaetzle with vegetables like asparagus.

Three recipes accompany the article linked above, and the EYB Library can also jumpstart your next spaetzle adventure. There you will find dozens of spaetzle recipes just waiting for a pot of boiling water, like the pea spaetzle pictured at right, from Bon Appetit.

Photos courtesy The Oregonian and the EYB Library

3 Comments

  • Rinshin  on  6/18/2014 at 7:18 PM

    I love spaetzle. I was taught some German cooking as a young woman living and working on military base overseas. A woman who was few decades older than me and married to a military man decided to mentor me in ways of cooking and hospitality. I spent many nights with her cooking and she showed me to to make spaetzle. I treasure my spaetzle maker and although it's possible to make this without the spaezel maker, it makes life much more joyous ie cleaning up and ease.

  • Laura  on  6/19/2014 at 10:28 AM

    I lived in Austria and Germany for several years in my 20s and I'll never forget the first time I had spaetzle, made by my Austrian mother-in-law. It was possibly the most delicious thing I ever tasted! Needless to say, I quickly acquired my own spaetzer and brought it back with me to the US. As I grew older and my metabolism slowed, I increasingly had to watch what I ate. Sadly, that meant that spaetzle was no longer on the menu and I haven't made or eaten it in many years. :(

  • Laura  on  6/19/2014 at 10:32 AM

    I lived in Austria and Germany for several years in my 20s and I'll never forget the first time I had spaetzle, made by my Austrian mother-in-law. As was the Austrian custom, it was covered in melted cheese. It was possibly the most delicious thing I ever tasted! Needless to say, I quickly acquired my own spaetzer and brought it back with me to the US. As I grew older and my metabolism slowed, I increasingly had to watch what I ate. Sadly, that meant that spaetzle was no longer on the menu and I haven't made or eaten it in many years. :(

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