Thursday, July 14, 2011

Buttermilk Spaetzle with Herbs

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Finding a reliable spaetzle recipe became a bit of an odyssey Chez Monkeyshines. We love the little gems, but, as is common with many simple dishes, couldn’t manage to make them without ending up with a) gummy gooey sludge on the plate and b) a monumental mess in the kitchen.

After months of research and trial and error, followed by more error, it was clear that there are several classes of spaetzle recipes and there are also several methods of forming them. You not only have to find the right recipe, but you must also use the right cutting technique for that recipe or heartbreak calls again.

There’s a very thick dough which you can cut by hand or using a spaetzle cutter. Some recipes yield a batter that I still don’t quite know what you do with. The recipe I finally settled on is somewhere in between: not thick enough to cut, but liquid enough that it presses easily through a ricer. If you see a recipe that suggests pressing the mix through a colander, run. There are few activities in the kitchen less fun than wrangling either thick sludge or runny batter through a colander set over boiling water. Ask me how I know..

Anyhow, hope we haven’t scared you off by now, because they’re so worth it. They’re even easy enough for a weeknight and won’t trash the kitchen. As always, this recipe comes from significant adaptation of an existing recipe, this time from Bon Appetit.  On a whim, we added buttermilk and love the gentle tang it lent. But often we use milk if we didn’t plan in advance or are too lazy to go to the store. And we vary the herbs to pair with whatever else is going on the plate and of course with whatever’s on hand.

Buttermilk Spaetzle with Herbs

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry ground mustard
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh herbs, minced (if you substitute dried herbs, reduce the volume by about half)
2 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
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Salt and several quarts of water for boiling the spaetzle

2 Tbsp butter

  1. Add the flour, salt, mustard and pepper in a medium sized bowl and mix to combine.
  2. Add the herbs and stir again
  3. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl, then add the buttermilk. Mix until all there is no dry flour remaining. You should have a moderately stiff dough. pasta 048                           dough just after mixing
  4. Cover the bowl and let it rest for an hour. None of the recipes I’ve read do this, so maybe you can skip it, but I did it once and for the first time was pleased with the result, so now I always rest the dough.
  5. Bring water and salt in a large saucepan to a boil. You’ll want the water to be fairly close to the top of the pot to make the next bit easier (not at the top, but not way down either). About halfway to the boiling point, start warming a skillet over medium heat. If you don’t preheat the skillet, your lovely spaetzles will all stick to the skillet and uncontrollable sobbing may ensue.
  6. When the water boils, raise the heat in the skillet and melt the butter.
  7. Use a spatula to scoop half of the batter into a potato ricer and, hovering just over the water level, press the dough into the stockpot. You might need to slice them off using a table knife. I know they look like they’re all going to clump together but somehow they don't. Give the pot a gentle stir if you’re really concerned. When the spaetzle float, skim them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to the skillet. Repeat with the rest of the dough. pasta 052             dough being pressed into the boiling waterpasta 050  a minite later we skim the spaetzle out and transfer to the skillet
  8. Stir the spaetzle around in the butter and cook until they’re just browned.  pasta 051
  9. Serve and enjoy!

We certainly hope that you like the spaetzle and find that this recipe works for you too!

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