A blank canvasJune 18, 2014 by Darcie
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.
Once 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
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