Spaetzle

I just tried out the new spaetzle maker from Lehman’s, and it worked beautifully! It’s fairly flimsy, but except for that has some better design features compared to the one my family has. The box separates from the panel, making for easy cleaning, and the holes are just plain holes, rather than looking like a grater, making for *much* easier cleaning, and less steamed-on spaetzle dough getting caught in the gadget. Nevertheless, spaetzle is sort of one of those foods that you have to make once properly before it makes sense. So here are some possibly-useful tips on how to turn flour and eggs into tasty little noodle-lings: (This is assuming your gadget looks like a cheese grater with a box on it — there are at least two other very different-looking types of spaetzle makers which I have less experience with. The dough will be the same, at least.)

How to Make Spaetzle

Get a bowl. Put a couple scoops of flour in the bowl. Eyeball an amount approximate to the number of people you will be serving. Break some eggs into the bowl with the flour. Authentic spaetzle often is just flour and eggs and a little seasoning, but I find that makes them somewhat too eggy for my taste, so I usually use a combination of eggs and water. Mix it up well with a spoon, adding liquid of your choice until it gets to the consistency of quite thick crepe batter. Add a good dash of salt and a large pinch of nutmeg.

Bring a half-full pot of water to a rolling boil (better yet, start this process while you’re making the batter!). Place the spaetzle maker on the pot; it should have a little indentation to help it stay on the pot. Pour or spoon the batter into the box, about 1/3 to 1/2 full. Start small if you’re feeling timid. Move the box rapidly back and forth as the batter goes through the holes. Once almost all of the batter is gone, put the gadget on top of the bowl you have the batter in. If you let it sit on the pot when it’s empty, the residual batter will steam itself to the gadget. It will do this anyway eventually, but this minimizes it. Stir the spaetzle, waiting until they all float to the top, and give them another 30 seconds or so for good measure. Fish them out with a slotted spoon, and put them into some other container. Repeat until you run out of batter.

Now, before you do anything else, clean the gadget! This is important. At this point, cleaning the gadget is easy. After the batter has dried into all the little crannies, this gadget is an utter nightmare to clean, and no, dishwashers just make it worse. A stiff-bristled brush is your friend.

At this point, the spaetzle can be fried in butter, baked in cheese like macaroni, or served with a mushroom, meat, lentil, or creamed spinach-based sauce. Really anything you’d do with noodles works well, but the above suggestions are typical of South Germany. Unlike fresh pasta, they will not tend to stick together in the bowl while you are cleaning the gadget and figuring out what to do with the finished product, so don’t worry.

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