Sometimes when I hear about a food I’ve never had before– especially if it’s not commonly found around LA– I suddenly, obsessively want to try it. (See: Blackberry summer pudding.) The madness started when I was perusing Smitten Kitchen, and stumbled across this recipe for spaetzle. With such a funny name, I knew I had to make it! As luck would have it, I happened to have a bunch of flour and eggs that I needed to use, and that’s two out of three ingredients.
I blended the dough, covered it, and left it in the fridge for… well, it was supposed to be an hour, but I gave it about 45 minutes. (Did I mention that I had just finished baking Funfetti cupcakes? It was a very cooking day.)
It’s really not complicated to make spaetzle, in theory… just push the dough through a colander, and it plops into the salted boiling water. After about three minutes, you put the boiled spaetzle into an ice bath (the ice in the picture is all I had… oh well).
Unfortunately, it becomes a huge mess in practice. Or at least it did for me.
I didn’t really think it through and was trying to push the less-than-willing dough through the colander in several places. When it finally got cooperative, it was coming out and hitting non-pot areas.
With my second batch, the dough cooked into the colander holes. This picture freaks me out.
I never really got the hang of how close to hold the colander to the pot. On Smitten Kitchen she gave major warnings about using potholders on both hands, but I didn’t end up using any. At the end of the second batch I realized that I was maybe holding the colander too far from the pot, because when I got my hands ouchy-close, the dough seemed to melt through the colander holes easier? But also cooked in the holes? I don’t know, confusing.
Also– it’s hard to boil the pasta for three minutes, because it takes sooo long to get the dough through, so the pieces are all boiling at different rates. I think mine ended up boiling for longer. You can tell if you’ve let it boil for too long because the pieces will start to clump. (After the last bit of dough went into the pot, I forgot about my spaetzle on the stove because I was immediately trying to clean the colander.)
Apparently a lot of native Austrian spaetzle-makers chop up the dough with a knife. Or they use a specific spaetzle-making device. That sounds better, if you’re going to make spaetzle often, because it took a while to clean the poor colander.
If I had to describe the look of spaetzle, I’d call it pasta Chee-tos.
Orrrr…. fetus pasta.
So I tossed it with olive oil (to avoid sticking) and stored it away for the next day (Sunday), because you can wait up to one day to cook with the spaetzle. (I had two containers-full.)
Of course, the question was– what to make with it?
I was looking into a cheesy casserole or meatballs-with-gravy variation (the popular way to cook it in Austria/Germany), but Mr. Tea and I ended up having a filling, dairy-laden tea on Sunday. So we went for a sauteed-with-vegetables variation.
Unfortunately we didn’t realize that you’re supposed to saute the spaetzle separate from the veggies, so… it was a little off. Mushy and stuff. And not meant to be an entree. But… I liked the veggies?
For dessert we decided to do more of a pan-fry on the second Tupperware of spaetzle. That was much better– I liked the bit of crunch. I mean, typically the more unhealthy you make something, the better it tastes.
I sprinkled it with cinnamon-sugar, and stirred in some milk chocolate chips. So… of course that was pretty good.
In conclusion, the next time I have spaetzle I will probably order it in a restaurant, as cooked by a professional. It was fun to make, but the clean-up was a pain in the ass. I majorly jabbed the under-nail of my right thumb while trying to scrape the hardened dough from my cute birdie spatula. Literally couldn’t fall asleep one night from the pain.
Today I happily ground up all the leftovers in my sink’s garbage disposal.
BUT I feel very proud of myself for making the spaetzle pasta all by myself… and very thankful to Mr. Tea for helping me cook and eat it, even though I was openly calling it “fetus-y.”
But don’t let that deter you from trying your hand at spaetzle-making. If– like me– you’re interested in food-related adventures… why not? Life’s short– try everything once.