Every country has its comfort food. America has its pot roast and mac ‘n cheese. Italy has lasagna (among many others). Germany has its kaesespaetzle. Oh what devine food. Rich, deep in flavor, easy to make; one of my favorites.
I lived in Germany for about 1 year, and cooking for my friends was one of the delights of my time there. It might have been in Germany that I decided to go pro. I tried a lot of the regional dishes, but with no training and no real culinary direction, I wound up cooking a lot of the same things over and over. Kasespaetzle was one of those amazing dishes, and oddly enough, I made it quite authentic. Even the Germans loved it, and they usually don’t like anything.
Spaeztle is a German egg dumpling whose shape, texture and flavor or remarkably reminiscent of egg noodles. Kaese is German for cheese. So, essentially, it’s an oven baked cheese ‘pasta’, German style. They made the spaetzle with loads of fresh herbs, caramelized onions, bacon (or speck, as we used over there), mushrooms and the great gruyere cheese.
It’s a comfort food I think any American will thoroughly enjoy, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 15 min
- 1 1/2 cups AP flour
- Kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup fine herbs (or chopped mixed herbs)
- Extra virgin olive oil
Have a bowl of ice water at hand. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Mix eggs and milk together, add herbs, 1 tbsp olive oil, and slowly work in flour until paste like. Add 1 tsp kosher salt. Using a colander, work the dough through the holes in the colander into the boiling water (or use a spaetzle maker). When they float, remove the dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon and submerge in the ice bath. Let cool completely. Drain on paper towel and lightly coat with olive oil. Reserve.
Cook time: 45 min
prep time: 10 min
1/2 cup chopped speck ham, or smoked bacon
1 large yellow onion, julienne
1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
cracked black pepper
2 cups grated gruyere cheese
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup fine chopped parsley
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a heavy bottom casserole with olive oil.
In a heavy bottom large saute pan, begin to render and crisp the speck (or bacon). When it begins to brown, drain excess fat and add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are golden and drain pan. Allow the bacon and mushrooms to drain on a paper towel. In the same pan, begin to brown the onions in the residual oil (if pan is dry, add 1 tbsp butter). When onions are deep brown and caramelized, season with salt and pepper and add the spaetzle. Add butter and season. When spaetzle begins to take a little color, return the bacon and mushrooms to the pan, mix in parsley and cook everything together until well blended and hot.
Place spaetzle in casserole and mix 1 1/2 cups cheese thoroughly. Sprinkle the remained of the cheese on top and place in oven for 30 min, until browned on top and bubbling.
Let cool 10 min and serve.
This dish goes best with German classics (schnitzle, etc), and of course cold beer.