One of the hardest things about making it through the winter and spring when you’re talking local foods is having said local foods on hand through the months, after the last farmstand and market close. We try to accomodate this by keeping things like squash, onions, beets and potatoes in the basement where it’s cooler and darker; a root cellar of sorts. We still have quite a bit of squash left, and decided to use some of the butternut squash to make spaetzle.
What is spaetzle you might ask?
Small dumplings of a type made in southern Germany and Alsace, consisting of seasoned dough poached in boiling water.
If I could compare it in texture it’d be that of gnocchi, but the taste is sweeter and richer because of the addition of egg. While traditionally it’s made with just flour, I decided to go down the route of using squash as an addition to the flavor. Generally when you do this with something flour-based like muffins or pancakes, you start with a puree of whatever flavor you’re adding in. While you can use a canned puree, I decided to do half roasting and half boiling to give a little bit of added depth of flavor.
One thing to note is the method of making the spaetzle. The consistency of the mixture is nothing like pasta but rather more like muffin batter. You pour it in a spaetzle maker, or in my case a perforated hotel pan. You place this pan or maker over a pot of well-salted boiling water, cooking for 3 minutes. After you remove them, simply place into a cold water bath if pan frying or into a broth if serving with something like a stew. If using broth, you could actually just make them in the broth as well. In our case we used the pan frying method and made a small batch of a pan sauce with some reduced pork stock as a basic sauce, but not a large quantity of broth.
Paired with the spaetzle was a pork schnitzel. Schnitzel is simply veal or other meat pounded very thin, coated in bread crumbs and pan-fried— a great accompaniment to the spaetzle. It’s about as easy as you can get with cooking; simple flouring, then an egg batter and into the bread crumbs. We used matza crumbs as I like the texture when pan-fried better on something like this.
In keeping with the Germanesque theme, we decided to forego a cocktail for beer. During the summer we had purchased Summer Cab Ride from Breckenridge Brewery which was a great pairing. While it’s a summer beer it does have a bit more bite then you might expect normal summer sipper. It’s also very smooth and drinkable though. The brewery describes it as such:
Breck Brew’s SummerBright is the result. The craftsman’s touch combines white wheat, two row pale and munich malt with the pacific northwest’s most intriguing hops to create a bright, clean ale ideal for picnicking, evenings on the screen porch and enjoying the whims of the summer breeze. Aged 14 weeks in a Cabernet Wine Barrel.
All in all this meal was great. I had never made spaetzle before but decided to give it a try. I’ve seen it made and knew the basic recipe but figured I’d give it a go. Kate and I were super happy with how well this came out and look forward to playing around with the recipe with other bases.