Monday, February 7, 2011

A Spaetzle a Day

I'm sure you're just like me.  You are often faced with the question of what to do with all of that leftover spaetzle.

Okay, me neither.

I've made spaetzle twice, but not because I don't like it. My sister-in-law and my brother got me hooked on the stuff during the "German food nights" we've had while visiting.  (Ask me sometime why Missie has a spaetzle maker.)  Spaetzle, for the uninitiated, are like a cross between pasta and a dumpling.  They're ridiculously easy to make, even if you don't have a spaetzle maker*, and they're versatile.  The recipe I use is from the box the spaetzle maker came in, but I've included a link to an easy one below.

The problem, if you'd like to call it that, is that the recipe I use makes enough for 6-8 people.  I can cut it down easily...but I'd have to actually remember to do that.  And besides, leftover spaetzle is pretty fabulous.
The recipe I use calls for simply boiling the little darlings dumplings for 2-3 minutes and then serving.  The recipe below has you drain them and then saute them in butter.  I did kind of a combination of the two. 

We ate the first batch (no sauteing) with a sweet-and-sour red cabbage recipe, and I stowed the rest in the fridge.  Tonight, I pulled it out and tossed it in a pan over medium-high heat (1/2 tbsp canola oil, 1 1/2 tbsp butter).  I let it sit for about 3 minutes before stirring, and did that for a total of about 8 minutes.  The result:  crispy but tender spaetzle.

We had it with this cabbage recipe.  (Whew.  Thank heavens for the ham, crispy spaetzle bits and carrots.  This would be one white looking picture!)

Ham and Cabbage Saute
by Me

1/2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 pound ham steak, cut into 1/2 inch chunks (you could also use bacon or Canadian bacon; if using bacon, drain off  most of the fat once it's cooked to your liking)
1 tsp salt, divided (you might use less, depending on the saltiness of your ham; I used about 3/4 tsp this time)
1/2  large sweet onion, cut into 1/4" slices (about 1-1 1/2 cups)
1 medium carrot, peeled, quartered and diced thinly
1/2 medium head of green cabbage, cored and sliced thinly (about 6-8 cups)
1/2-1 tsp of dried thyme (I used about 3/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp of caraway seeds (more or less, or omit, to your taste)
1 scant tbsp cider vinegar
3/4 c of water, plus more if necessary
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

1.  Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add the ham and cook without stirring for about 2 minutes; stir and repeat.  Add the onion and carrot, and a small pinch of the salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes or until onion and carrot begin to soften.

2.  Add cabbage to onion, carrot and ham mixture.  Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, stir to combine.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about  5 minutes, or until cabbage begins to wilt.  Add thyme and caraway seeds, stir through.

3.  Make a well in the center of the cabbage, and add the vinegar.  Cook, stirring, until vinegar is evaporated.  Add water, stir, and cook, covered, for about 8-10 minutes, or until cabbage is well-wilted but still slightly crisp to the bite.  Add more water to keep from drying out while cooking, if necessary. 

4.  Uncover and let most of the water cook off.  Stir in nutmeg and pepper, taste, and adjust salt to your preference.

Serves 4.

I served this over the spaetzle, but it would also be grand with mashed potatoes or simple buttered egg noodles.  I've also been known to eat this by itself because I like it so much.

*If you don't have a spaetzle maker, you can press the spaetzle dough through the holes of a colander using the back of a ladle.


Missie said...

"Leftover spaetzle". Does not compute. I have to double the recipe for our household. ;)

Missie said...

Also, an ammendment we've made to our spaetzle recipe: don't boil them in water or chicken broth. Use beer! We specifically use the beer that our brats were cooked in. This gives the spaetzle a wonderful flavor, and doesn't waste the beer. It also knocks the kids out for bed.

Missie said...

And we are so having "Skotchtober Fest" dinner later this week!

Christine said...

Dang. I forgot about the beer. You did that last time we were there, and I loved it. Thanks for the reminder!