I remember the first time I saw my mom make spaetzle … I wasn’t quite a teenager … and I wondered what I had done to deserve such punishment! Spaetzle wasn’t something I was overly fond of as a kid, I much preferred spaghetti and meatballs as my pasta of choice. I wasn’t old enough to appreciate the German squiggly pasta or the tradition it represented in my family.
Both of my parents have strong German roots … ancestors from both sides came to the USA by way of the southwestern part of German.
My mother’s side (Jacob Mueller) arrived in the early 1800s, landing in New Orleans and walking the length of the Mississippi River to what is now known as St. Clair County in Illinois. Can you imagine walking all that way? I can’t.
Incidentally, Chili’s family also settled in St. Clair County; I tease him all the time about being his “cousin”. I haven’t made the connection yet, but you’ll know when I do … the shriek will be heard around the world.
My dad’s side (Essler) also arrived in the early 1800s. While I haven’t pinned down the exact year or location, I do know they traveled north through Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
I’ve always been fascinated by migration patterns of America’s early settlers … my family traveled opposite routes upon arrival, but we still all ended up here in southern Illinois … thankfully, or I wouldn’t exist!
Although it’s popular throughout Germany today, spaetzle is thought to have originated in the southwestern part of the country. It’s no wonder why it was popular among my family’s early arrivals!
How to make spaetzle
Ingredients – make 4 servings
- 1 cup All Purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup milk
First, place a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
Whisk together egg and 1/3 cup of milk then pour into the dry ingredients.
The mixture should be wet enough that you can easily mix it with a fork. If it’s too dry, add a little more milk to loosen it. If it’s too dry, it won’t go through a spaetzle maker … everything gets clogged up!
This is a spaetzle maker. Mine is older … from Austria … I picked it up at a junk store about 2 years ago. It fits on top of your pan and the hopper (that think that looks like a metal cup) slides back and forth to force the spaetzle through the holes.
You should be able to get through all of your mixture in this recipe before removing the cooked spaetzle. You’ll need to work in batches for larger amounts.
Immediately remove to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Nothing is worse than rubbery spaetzle!
This is a versatile pasta, although it’s usually fixed with venison or beef … it takes the place of our potato. An easy final touch is to toss these with some melted butter and butterkaese (German butter cheese)! Check out my onion and mushroom sauce concoction, too!