Spätzle with Balsamic Chicken, Brussels Sprouts and MushroomsPosted: 13 April 2011
Spätzle is one of those things that I have a very distinct and weird memory of. I remember my Foods teacher (because we had a class called ‘Foods’ in high school) making up a ball of dough, holding it in her hand and shredding it with a box grater and calling it spätzle. I’m not sure why that memory stuck with me but something about the recipe and technique seemed off. Possibly it was just that our teacher was completely crazy. Or maybe my Austrian grandmother had set a seed in my brain about what spätzle was and how one made it but I made a mental note to try it on my own sometime. 13 years later, I finally got around to it. My grandmother is no longer alive to consult about the proper recipe and method of spätzle. Some other bloggers had posted recipes but they still didn’t feel right. Spätzle only has a few ingredients and some had devised a way to get something other than flour, eggs, salt and water into the dough. I wanted no part in that. Sometimes simple is exactly what you need.
I wanted to make a dinner that was distinctly Germanic without it being straight up Jaeger Schnitzel. Which I adore, btw, but do not attempt to make myself. Instead I settled on serving the spätzle as the base for grilled chicken, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms tossed with a balsamic glaze. Instead of just boiling the sprouts in water, I added half a cup of the balsamic vinegar and a few tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce so they absorbed the delicious flavor. Sadly my tub of mushrooms was already starting to decay four days after I’d brought it home (thanks for the fresh produce Super Target!) so there were far fewer mushrooms than I’d planned on having. Luckily it didn’t really matter because we all know the doughy little strips of noodles were the stars of this show.
Recipe makes 4 servings
For the spätzle (recipe adapted from All Recipes)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
Start a large pot of water boiling. Use the biggest pot you have. You’ll want to have a lot of water, but you’ll also want to have several inches of space between the boiling water and the top of the pot.
Mix together the flour, eggs and salt with a fork. Add the water and mix until you have a soft, sticky dough. The dough should be tacky. If it’s too dry, add water one teaspoon at a time until it’s nice and sticky.
Grab a clump of the sticky dough and slap it onto a small cutting board. Be sure to use one that’s light weight and easy to hold.
Rest your cutting board on the edge of your pot of boiling water. You’ll need to hold on to it with one hand, keeping it at a 45º angle above the boiling water.
Grab your favorite knife and dunk the blade in the boiling water.
Smooth down the edge of the dough so you have a dough ‘smear’ to work with.
Voila. You have made a spätzle.
Keep doing this until you have several in the pot. Fresh noodles only need about 60 seconds to finish cooking. Once they’re floating, scoop them out and set them in a strainer. You’ll probably want to scrape a small amount of dough at a time so you have small batches of cooked noodles every few minutes. This keeps your noodles from over cooking.
For the Chicken, Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms and Balsamic Glaze
1 lb Brussels Sprouts, cleaned
2 chicken breasts, pounded to a uniform thickness
1 pint button mushrooms (or more!)
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
Place the sprouts in a sauce pan and cover with water. Add 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/2 a cup of Worcestershire sauce.
On your fourth burner, place a small sauce pan with 2 cups of balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and let boil until reduced by half. About five minutes total. Yes. You might need to use all four burners. Although, you should really only need to have two on at a time. If my teensy tiny little stove can handle it, so can yours. Just for reference, I had my head up against the cupboards on the other side of the kitchen just to get this whole thing in view. And yes, that is the wall that my cast iron skillet is resting against. Tight quarters in Wee Kitchen.