Apparently I am German. Yes! It's still there! Lately I have been really sentimental about Germany, really missing the food and culture. I think it's the reality of the realization that my children are not going to have the multi-cultural childhood experiences that I did growing up, that is making my upbringing suddenly that much more precious and dear to me. One of the quintessentially German dishes that I have been craving is spaetzle (Pronounced Shpetsleh)--and it means "little sparrows!" how cute is that! Anyhow, it's home made egg noodles, basically, but it is a soft batter-style dough that is pressed through holes into boiling water. and it is SO! GOOD! My Oma used to make it in her blessed kitchen, usually with beef and a really hearty brown beef sauce to go with it, and it is probably one of my top 4 favorite meals of all time. Food. Heaven. Now mind you, it is super dense and has basically no nutritional value, but anytime you are craving a huge amount of extra delicious white flour in your tummy (like on a Sunday, when you've been really good all week), well, this is the thing for you.
The thing about this meal is, you have to have a special gadget to be able to achieve the noodles: a spaetzle press (aka potato ricer), which looks something like the hugest garlic press you have ever seen. Or the ones my mom and grandma had did, anyway.
The one I have now, I got from a woman in California who owned a European deli shop. It looks more like a flat cheese grater except the holes are not knife-like and it has a slider-cup to go back and forth over the top.
This version makes not long noodles so much as tiny rounded mini-dumplings, but the taste is the same, and after tragically losing my mother's spaetzle press in one of our many moves, I was certainly glad to have something. The point is, if you have any German in your family, rediscover it, and for the love of your heritage, get a spaetzle press. If you don't have any German, pretend like you do, because this is one meal that is WORTH having a whole extra gadget in your kitchen to make! Do it.
Basic recipe and method:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
dash nutmeg (Germans love adding nutmeg to stuff)
1 cup cold water
2 TBSP butter
Mix the flour, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. Break up the eggs with a fork, then add them and the water to the flour mixture. Stir vigorously until you have a smooth batter/dough (I used my Kitchenaid mixer). Meanwhile, boil a bunch of water in a big pot with some salt. when it is boiling, press the dough through your spaetzle maker into the hot water. Cook 2 or 3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. Toss with butter.
(Now, if you reeeeeeaaaaally can't buy a spaetzle press and you reeeeeeaaaaally want to make this, I did find a recipe online that allows you to make the dough stiffer and roll it out/cut strips off of it to make the noodles, but I can't promise that it will be the real mccoy. To do this, use 5 eggs and only 1/2 cup water, mixing that together with the salt and nutmeg first, then adding the flour in small amounts til you get the consistency you need. Roll flat and cut 2-or 3-inch strips off, dropping them into the water. Good luck with that.)
So usually, where I come from, Spaetzle is served with jaegerschnitzel, which is pork, and mushrooms, or beef and savory brown sauce. I only had chicken, so I decided to adapt German-style schnitzel methods to chicken and make up a sauce. And here is where I discovered that apparently I still AM German, because it was sooooooooo good that I could have eaten the whole thing then and there. Here is that part of the recipe/process:
Chicken tenders (or if using lg. chicken breasts, beat them thin with a meat tenderizer)
paprika (Germans love adding paprika to stuff)
salt and pepper
a whole bunch of butter
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth
about 1 tsp. onion powder, or to taste
Rinse the meat and pat dry. Dredge in a mix of flour, paprika, salt, and pepper and fry in butter on both sides til just done. (My flour ratio was about 1/3 cup, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.) Add more butter if it has gone a little dry, and put in about 2 Tablespoons of your leftover flour mix, whisking it in. Add the onion powder too, and keep whisking as you add the chicken broth slowly. Result: super amazing authentically German-tasting gravy/butter sauce! YUM!
Now: Eat heaping platefuls of spaetzle and chicken drenched in sauce, and if you're feeling good, make a quick green salad with onions and tomatoes and use a vinaigrette. Add some spaetzle, chicken, and sauce to the top and be transported to German food bliss.