Monday, December 15, 2008

Dutch Oven Spatzle with Onions

In my never-ending quest for dishes from all over the world to cook in my American Dutch Oven, I came across Spatzle (pronounced "Sh-PAYTS-luh"). I first had the dish cooked in the kitchen of my wife's cousin and best friend. She had spent some time working for our church in Munich, Germany. I really loved the dish, and I got it in my head to try it out. I haven't done many dishes from Northern or Central Europe (Except the rye bread). I thought it would be fun to try.

I did a bit of research, and discovered that the dish I had eaten was only one variation of millions of possibilities. Spatzle is a sort of German pasta/dumpling, and they put it with a wide variety of sauces, fillings, and other things. It's mostly served as a side dish, actually.

But, I still decided to do it mostly like I'd first encountered it. I say, "mostly", because I can never leave anything alone...

This dish is really done in two steps.

Step one: The Spatzle

8" Dutch Oven

15 + coals below

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp (or a liberal shake) of nutmeg
  • 5 eggs
  • ~1 cup water

I started up the coals, and put the 8" dutch oven on them, with about 4-5 cups of water in it. While that was heating and boiling, I mixed the batter. I mixed all the dry ingredients, then added the eggs. Finally, I started adding the water a little bit at a time. I added a little, then stirred, then added, then stirred. My wife's cousin (cousin-in-law?) had said that it needs to be like a very thick cake batter. I actually probably went a little to wet this time. I would probably used just around 3/4 cup of water. Maybe a little more.

I'd read that there were two ways to make the spatzle, one is to put the dough into a collander and press it through the holes. The other way is to have an actual spatzle press (which is the method I used). I'm not sure which one would be easier or messier. The jury's still out.

But you hold the press or the collander over the boiling water, and press the batter through the holes into the dutch oven. It'll drop into the water and sink. When the water boils and the spatzle strings start floating a couple of minutes later, let it boil for just a moment more, then fish it out with a slotted spoon. Drain it and set it aside. I'm told you can even put it in the fridge for another day.

You do it in bits. Squeeze a bit of batter into the water, let it cook, pull it out, then do it again. Repeat it until all the batter is cooked. Then you're ready for...

Step Two: The Main Dish

12" Dutch oven

8-10 coals below
16-18 coals above

  • The spatzle
  • 2-3 medium onions
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2-3 chopped green onions (including greens)
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • juice of one lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3-4 links of smoked sausage or bratwurst
  • 2 handfulls of grated mozarella

I stared off with all the coals under the dutch oven, and started sauteeing onions, the garlic, the spatzle, and the mushrooms. I Let them sautee until just a just a little brown. Then I added the lemon juice, and the salt and pepper. One last stir.

Then I arranged the sausage lengths on top (I put them all on one side because my wife doesn't like sausage much). Finally, I topped it with the mozarella.

Then I reset the oven on the coals as listed above and let it bake for about 20 minutes, enough to combine all the flavors, cook the sausage, and melt the cheese.

Then, dish it up and serve!

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