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Spaetzle is little dumplings, generally made of eggs, flour, and salt, that are used in German, Swiss, Austrian, and Alsace cuisines. Soft pillows of dough that are cooked up in boiling water; they are most often served with meats that have a lot of gravy or sauce to give them flavor. Not so necessary with this Mustard Thyme Spaetzle, as they have flavor on their own, but also great with meaty gravy. I love them with My Mother’s Rouladen!
Before the invention and use of mechanical devices to make these dumplings, they were shaped by hand or with a spoon and the result resembled Spatzen (meaning little sparrows). I watched my aunt Cristina actually making these one time by putting the dough on a cutting board and literally cutting them into the boiling water, it looked very awkward but they turned out great. I think that is a talent you learn when you’re a child.
At your Grandmother’s knee.
Me? I’m a believer in the spaetzle maker, where you put the soft dough onto the grate, then slide the slide back and forth forcing the pieces of dough to fall into the water where they boil for a few minutes, and when they come back up to the surface, you simply remove them with a slotted spoon.
I have to admit, my husband usually makes the dough which as I said, is eggs, flour, and salt. Pretty boring stuff; think egg noodles. Or pasta without sauce. It really needed something more. So I added a bit of mustard and some thyme and voila, transformed. After he does the first cook through, I finish them in the butter. Mustard-Thyme Spatzle is great for a dinner party because they can be prepared a day in advance and reheated when you finish them in the butter.
Because this spaetzle has flavor in them, they go great with Wiener Schnitzel, no gravy needed.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add a nice pinch of salt and about 1 teaspoon oil.Prepare the dough by mixing the flour, eggs, Dijon, thyme, a nice pinch of salt, and a grate of nutmeg (or pinch) in a large bowl. While stirring add the water a little at a time until the dough is smooth but not too stiff. Continue to beat the dough until it "rises". (You will see it coming away from the sides of the bowl and becoming fluffy.
There are a couple of ways to cook this, with a spaetzle grater or by pushing the dough through the holes of a large holed colander. Whichever method you use, grate the dough, in batches, directly into the boiling water, after about 3 minutes, the dumplings will rise to the top, skim them off with a slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining dough. (Prepare in advance to this point, pour a little oil on the top, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve).
When ready to serve: Heat the oil and butter together in a large skillet, add the spaetzle (you can run them under hot water if they seem really stuck together, drain well); over medium-high heat cook until they start to brown and are hot, add a little salt and pepper, then add the parsley and turn off the heat.
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