Cut Spaetzle With Paprika Crème Fraîche, Red Lentils and Bratwurst Sausage!
This is a great German recipe for winter! Brown Lentils are commonly served with spätzle and sausages in Germany. Red Lentils are not traditional, but they are nice looking and they have a gentle flavor. The entire look of this entrée is as bright as sunshine, when the Red Lentils are accompanied by a simple Paprika Sauce.
Spätzle literally translates to "little sparrows." Spoon Spätzle rarely looks like little sparrows, but Pressed Spätzle or Board Cut Spätzle definitely has that look. The size and texture of Spätzle is a matter of personal preference. I make a lot of different spätzle sizes and textures for recipe examples. Some people prefer a light fluffy texture, while others prefer a chewy texture or something in between. The size of Spâtzle can range from thin tiny little noodles to extra long strands that are about 1/4" thick.
There are several kinds of spätzle. Old fashioned Spoon Spätzle are made by using a spoon to stream a medium noodle batter across the surface of very hot water. Spoon spätzle is the most tender of all spätzle and they puff up the most when they are fried. Drip Spätzle are also made with a medium consistency batter. The batter is poured into a perforated container over a pot of hot water and the droplets of batter create small plump noodles.
A slightly thicker noodle batter is used to make Pressed Spätzle. The thick batter is pressed through small holes in a special device directly into hot water. Pressed Spätzle looks like little sparrows. This is the spätzle that most restaurants serve.
Board Cut Spätzle is a little bit more labor intensive. Board Cut Spätzle can be very thin and tiny or it can be fairly large. The size depends on how soft or dense the dough is. The size also depends on the board cutting and scraping technique. Board Cut Spätzle definitely looks like little sparrows, unless the noodles are cut and scraped into large thick strands.
Board Cut Spätzle Dough:
This recipe yields enough spätzle for 3 or 4 portions!
Step 1: Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
Whisk till blended.
Set the whisked eggs aside.
Step 2: Place 2 1/2 cups of bread flour or all purpose flour in a mixing bowl.
Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
Stir the dry mixture.
Step 3: Form a well in the center of the flour.
Slowly pour the whisked eggs into the well while stirring with a spoon.
Stir till the eggs start to combine with the flour.
Scrape any dough that clings to the spoon back into the bowl.
Step 4: Knead till a stiff dough forms.
Step 5: *This step determines the texture!
Add 1 tablespoon of milk or water at a time, while kneading, till a medium stiff noodle dough is formed. The dough should be semi sticky.
*Only 2 to 4 tablespoons are needed, depending on how soft or firm that you prefer the finished Spätzle to be. Do not add too much liquid or you will end up with a batter! The dough should not be as stiff as an Italian pasta dough, but it should be firm. After pressing a finger on the dough to leave a dent, the dent should remain intact.
Step 6: Place the spätzle dough in a sealed container.
Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
Mounting the Spätzle Dough to the board:
The thickness of the dough on the board can vary. Some people like to work a thick slab of dough, while others prefer to work a thin sheet of dough.
Allow the chilled spätzle dough to reach room temperature.
Stretch and roll a portion of the dough out, so it forms a rectangle shape that is 2 1/2" x 10" and about 1/4" thick. (Enough for large 1 portion or 2 cups of finished spätzle.)
Gently press the dough strip onto one end of a spätzle board (or a small cutting board), so it sticks in place. Be sure to leave 3" to 4" of bare board as a leading edge where the cutting edge of the metal spatula will drag against the board.
Board Cut Spätzle:
This recipe yields 1 portion. (About 2 cups.)
A good German chef can stand twenty feet away, with his back turned and he can tell whether the spätzle is being made correctly just by listening to the sound of the knife and board! If the knife is at too steep or too thin of an angle, it makes a certain noise when it drags across the board. If too much force or pressure is applied, certain sounds can be heard. If the knife is not worked fast enough, then the first few spätzle that land in the pot will overcook!
Medium size spätzle like the ones in the photos are the easiest to start with. Once the board cutting spätzle technique is mastered, the sound and feel of making spätzle will become second nature. A good chef can cut spätzle as fast as lightening!
Step 1: Place a heavy pot of water over high heat.
Bring the water to a boil.
Reduce the temperature to medium heat. There should be no signs of a rapid boil on the surface of the water.
Step 2: Use this technique to cut and scrape the spätzle into the pot of water:
• Hold the board (with the single portion of dough attached) with one arm. The board should be held as close to the pot of hot water as possible. The leading edge of the board can be rested on the rim of the pot of hot water, if the pot is heavy and stable.
• The other hand uses a long thin blade spätzle knife to cut the thin strips of spätzle with a scraping motion. A long straight thin cake spatula can be used as a spätzle knife.
• The spätzle knife blade is placed against the board in front of the leading edge of the dough.
Keep the blade at a 15º to 25º angle.
• Drag the spatula blade back over the leading edge of the dough.
After making contact with the dough, apply a small amount of pressure with the blade, so the leading edge of the dough becomes flattened.
• Drag the knife back over the thin dough edge again.
• Apply a little bit of pressure with the spatula blade while moving the blade toward the pot, to cut a thin strand of dough while scraping the blade against the board. (Each strand of cut dough should be long and thin. For the spätzle size in the photos, each cut piece should be about 2" x 3/16".)
• Continue moving the spatula blade forward toward the pot with a quick a sweeping motion. The blade will scrape against the board and the piece of spätzle will fly into the pot. (Just like a little sparrow!)
Step 3: After the portion of spätzle is cut and in the pot of hot water, very gently boil the spätzle .
The spätzle are finished cooking when they float on top of the hot water for a couple of minutes and the texture is firm, yet tender.
Step 4: Use a fryer net to scoop the spätzle out of the water.
Place the spätzle in a colander to drain off the excess water.
Let the spätzle cool to room temperature.
Place the spätzle in a container and chill them till they are needed.
This recipe yields 1 portion.
Red Lentils do not take much time to become tender.
Step 1: Boil 1 quart of water in a pot over medium high heat.
Add 1 cup of red lentils.
Return the liquid to a boil.
Step 2: Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
Simmer till the red lentils become tender.
Step 3: Remove the pot from the heat.
Pour the red lentils into a strainer to drain off the liquid.
Step 4: Place the red lentils in a small sauce pot.
Add 1/3 cup of chicken broth.
Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
Add 1 thin sliced green onion.
Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
Stir the ingredients together.
Step 5: Place the pot over medium low heat.
Bring the broth to a simmer.
Briefly simmer till the onions are tender.
Keep the red lentils warm over very low heat.
This recipe yields 1 portion.
Fresh sausage must be simmered at a low temperature, so the casing does not split when the sausage is roasted or grilled! 157ºF is an ideal temperature for the poaching water.
Step 1: Simmer a small pot of water over medium low heat.
Add a 6 to 8 ounce uncooked fresh bratwurst sausage.
Simmer the sausage, till it is almost fully cooked.
Remove the sausage from the water and set it aside.
Step 2: Heat a sauté pan or griddle over medium/medium low heat.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Grill the bratwurst till it is fully cooked and golden brown highlights appear.
Keep the bratwurst warm on a stove top.
This recipe yields about 3/4 cup. (1 generous portion)
Step 1: Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
Add 1/4 cup of semi sweet German riesling white wine.
Simmer for 2 minutes.
Step 2: Add 1/4 cup of milk.
Add 1/4 cup of cream.
Add 1/3 cup of sour cream.
Add 1 teaspoon of mild Hungarian Paprika.
Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
Step 3: Whisk the ingredients together.
Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.
Step 4: Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
Butter Fried Spätzle:
This recipe yields 1 large portion. (About 2 cups)
Spätzle is usually finished by pan frying it in noisette butter!
Step 1: Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
Add 3 ounces of unsalted butter.
Cook the butter till it is a golden brown color and it emits a hazelnut aroma.
Step 2: Add 1 portion of boiled spätzle, while shaking the pan. (About 2 cups)
Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.
Sauté, stir and toss the spätzle, till the spätzle puff up and a few golden highlights appear. (This only takes about 1 minute)
Step 3: Remove the pan from the heat.
Drain off the excess butter.
Keep the finished spätzle warm on a stove top.
Spätzle mit Bratwürst, Roten Linsen und Paprikasauce:
This recipe yields 1 entrée.
Step 1: Mound 1 generous portion of the red lentils on the center of a plate.
Step 2: Place a wide ring of the finished spätzle on the plate around the lentils.
Spoon a generous portion of the Paprikasauce over the spätzle.
Step 3: Garnish the Paprikasauce with a few Italian Parsley leaves.
Place the grilled bratwurst on the mount of red lentils.
This is a nice meal for warming up after coming in from the cold!