Before you read any further (and I hope that you do!) please learn how to pronounce this German version of pasta-- can you say "SPETS-LEH"? No, not SPATSEL... not SPETSEL... but "SPETS-LEH"! Thank you. You are now an "Honorary Bavarian".
I have a confession to make-- I really, REALLY, want to learn how to make pasta with an Italian pasta machine. Really. I do! Someday, I will do that. In the meantime, please allow me to introduce you to a "German Pasta Machine"... it's inexpensive and fool-proof:
I bought this gadget (and I am a kitchen gadget junkie) at least 10 years ago, for $7.99. I bought it at a kitchen outlet store, located in beautiful Cannery Row, Monterey-- and it's out of business, so I have no idea where to find one. I'm sure that GOOGLE does! I've heard that a colander, with large holes works, too-- so you can try this.
The recipe for this is at the bottom of this posting. You can save it or print it. In the meantime, let me show you show easy these are to make:
Besides a spaetzle maker (or colander) you will need:
Large pot of salted boiling water.
Flour, milk, eggs and salt. That's it!
I've seen Hunky Tyler Florence's version of this, where he adds nutmeg. Suit yourself. I don't add it, though I love nutmeg. I guess my mother brainwashed me that only "Northern German's" add nutmeg (remember, there's a bit of ...shall we say, rivalry between the North and South of Germany.) My oldest brother, who was born and raised in Bavaria, can tell you exactly how the "Hatfield's and McCoy's" of Germany started, if you're interested.
I sift the flour and salt together in a bowl.
I beat the eggs until fluffy; then alternate adding milk and the dry ingredients just until combined.
I don't overbeat the flour.
It should look like this:
I let this dough rest a bit. Why? Somewhere, I've read that it helps the gluten relax. It works for me. So, while the dough was resting, I cleaned up the mess and started the pot of water boiling (with the lid on...it does speed things up). Oh, and I always use kosher salt. I don't use table salt...ever...well, I do in baking only.
Here's the fun part. My tripod has gone missing, so I grabbed my husband and asked him to take photos for me-- I need two hands to start filling up the well of the spaetzle maker with the dough:
OK, here we go!
Make sure that the water is boiling! You need to fill up the well 3-4 times:
You have to work fast, though, so that the spaetzle cooks, pretty much, at the same time.
Sometimes, I get carried away...this is a little too much dough at once!
This is the last of the dough-- it took four times to fill and I was working pretty fast.
I am fanatical about cleaning up my kitchen as I cook. Unfortunately, in a manner of moments the spaetzle can boil over, if you're washing dishes in the sink-- and it's not pretty if that happens!
I'm so thankful for gas ranges. I caught it (actually, my husband did) in the nick of time. I turned the heat down to medium low. Whew!
The pasta rises to the top in a matter of minutes. It's ready to be drained. No photo of that-- you know how to drain it! (in truth, there was so much steam that my lens kept fogging up) Don't rinse it, though. Please don't rinse it! Sauce sticks better if you don't.
Now here's the beauty of Spaetzle. Just like noodles, you can pour a sauce over it. We love this with my signature Austrian Goulash . It's a beef stew with a paprika and tomato sauce that is full of flavor and very traditional in Austria and Bavaria. It is nothing like a Hungarian Goulash at all-- no vegetables.
Now my brother, Alan, and my son are crazy about Spaetzle. Their favorite way for me to prepare it is with unsalted butter, cooked to a light golden color with fresh parsley. I season with additional sea salt, to taste. They can eat it plain, and be happy.
As for me, I like it several ways-- my #1 favorite way to use leftovers (if there are any) is to add caramelized onion and Emmentaler Cheese. I've had version, in Austria, made with fresh spinach added to the dough. I'll have to try that, one of these days.
Germans love potatoes about as much as the Irish. But spaetzle is an alternative side dish, to potatoes, when I prepare red cabbage and Wiener Schnitzel.