A classic German comfort dish perfect for a chilly day
Pasta and cheese is a glorious combination that can be found throughout the world. However, Germany has been perfecting its version since the 18th century. As part of my latest series on macaroni and cheese dishes from around the world, I’m exploring Käsespätzle.
In the southwest corner of Germany sits a region known as Swabia, which is known throughout Germany for the creation of Spätzle. It’s a type of homemade egg noodle that has tons of variations and has spread throughout neighboring countries like Austria, Switzerland, and Hungary. But considering that this series is all about macaroni and cheese, there’s only one Spätzle type to focus on: Käsespätzle.
In German, “Käse” simply means “cheese,” so Käsespätzle roughly translates to “cheese noodles.” This particular recipe for Käsespätzle comes to us from Lea, who is from Berlin, Germany. According to Lea, this noodle dish is a deeply integral part of German culture. Even though it can be found in a few restaurants, Lea says that Käsespätzle is often thought of as a home cooked dish that places an emphasis on shared, communal cooking. As such, it’s often reserved for family gatherings or special meals, but in my opinion, there’s never a bad time to enjoy Käsespätzle.
To make your own batch of Käsespätzle at home, you’ll only need eggs, flour, butter, cilantro, cheese, and an onion. However, Lea strongly suggests using the traditional Emmentaler cheese. It’s a medium-hard cheese with a nutty flavor that melts and pulls perfectly for macaroni and cheese. If you can’t get your hands on Emmentaler, though, Gruyere will work in a pinch. You’ll need to grate the cheese, caramelize the onions in butter, and that just leaves the Spätzle noodles.
For Spätzle noodles, you’ll mix together flour, eggs, and water until you reach an almost pancake batter consistency. You’ll then press the batter through a device called a “hopper” into a pot of boiling water to cook. Once the noodles are finished, layer them with the caramelized onions and shredded cheese into a dish and bake until golden brown on top.
There isn’t a single spice that goes into Käsespätzle and yet, it’s so wonderfully flavorful. Rich and warming with hearty flavors, Käsespätzle is pure comfort.
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