Sunday, February 03, 2008

Spaetzle Dishin'

Decided to make dinner for TIRK and MOBI, and forwent dancing for the whole weekend. I had this inspiration on the drive up Friday and was glad to have a chance to try it soon. I never made spaetzle before, and created a superb Jackson Pollack of batter dribblets over every pot, bowl, collander and horizontal surface in the kitchen.

If you are a visual reader like Irene, rather than a silent mutterer like I am, go back to the title of this post and say it aloud.



2.5 lbs cubed stew beef
1 bottle red wine
3 carrots, finely diced
1/2 head red cabbage, finely shredded
Salt, white pepper, and dried or finely diced fresh dill
Water or beef broth

Braise the meat in the wine for about an hour; put in the vegetables and braise for another hour; remove the meat and shred it. Return it to the pot, season with salt, white pepper and dill, and add additional liquid to remoisten it -- once shredded, the meat will absorb what liquid was in there before.

I actually used prepared red cabbage from a jar, which is sweetened; the end result was a little too sweet for me, but less work than shredding cabbage would have been. You have my permission to approach it either way.


4 eggs
4 cups flour
About 2 cups milk
Onion juice or puree, or very finely diced chives
Vegetable oil

Mix the wet ingredients (except the oil), then gradually mix in the flour. Keep extra milk and flour on hand to adjust the mixture to the consistency of a thickish cake batter. Boil a large pot of water, and force the batter through the large holes of a collander into the water; fish out and drain after about 3 minutes of boiling. You will have to do several cycles of this, and probably change the water at least once. If you dice chives, make sure they are fine enough to fit through the holes. Like an idiot I put in chopped scallions that didn't fit through my holes, and I regretted it. These are on the softest, moistest end of the spaetzle continuum; they could have been a little drier, perhaps, although it would have been more work to force them through the holes in the collander (there are also devices for this). The other approach to spaetzle is more of a pasta than a dumpling -- you make a much firmer dough then shred it with a knife. Mixed a little vegetable oil into the bowl of completed spaetzle as I went along to keep them from sticking; but they were wet enough that I wonder if I really needed too.

Tried it with sour cream but decided against it -- the red wine makes this a little subtler than the usual borscht sweet-and-sour, and I thought in the end that it was too delicate for the sour cream.

Timing: make the spaetzle batter, then put up its water, starting just after you have put the vegetables into the ragu. By the time the water boils, it's a good time to start making the spaetzle.


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