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Spaetzle is a particular kind of German pasta bit or small dumpling; Allgåu is a region in southwest Bavaria, in southern Germany. (I tell the kids that this is German-style macaroni and cheese.) This recipe was given to me by a friend, Volker Klüpfel, co-author of a series of popular German detective novels whose main character, Detective Kluftinger, has a weakness for Kåsspatzen -- a specialty of the region. Ideally, one uses a special Spaetlze maker (not too common here in the U.S., but inexpensive and readily available online); otherwise, you can make the little pasta bits by hand with a knife -- it just takes a little longer. Also, if you’re hesitant to use the pungeant Limburger and Weisslacker cheeses, skip them and just use extra of the other two (Detective Kluftigner will never know!).
- 2 cups flour (or more)
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 4 ounces emmenthaler cheese, grated
- 4 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
- 2 ounces Limburger cheese, grated (Semi-soft cheese can be put in freezer for 15 to 30 minutes to make grating easier)
- 2 ounces weisslacker cheese, grated
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Make the spaetzle dough about thirty minutes to an hour before cooking; the dough needs time to rest.
- To make spaetzle dough: In a large bowl whisk the eggs, salt and water together. Gradually add flour, beating well. Let rest, then beat again. Let rest, then beat. You want a batter that is shiny and elastic and a little runny, but slightly stiff. (For instance, it should be thicker than pancake batter, but runnier than mashed potatoes. More like pudding, sort of. You’ll get the hang of it, and it doesn't have to be !00% perfect.).
- About 40 minutes before serving: Preheat oven to 325°F Also, put a big pot of water over high heat; this needs to come to a boil.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until onions are dark caramel colored, about 30 minutes. The trick is to stir the onions enough to keep them from burning, but not so often as to interrupt the browing process.
- While onions are slowly cooking, make the spaetzle. When the water is boiling, place the spaetzle maker across the top of the pot, add dough to the metal cup of the machine, and starting sliding the cup back and forth across grater-like flat part of the machine. Gravity will pull the slightly runny dough through the holes at the bottom of the cup, and eventually little drops of dangling dough will fall into the water. These are the spaetzle. Continue sliding the cup until all the dough has emptied. Let the spaetzle cook for a few moments. When the batch is floating on the surface, scoop them out with a slotted spoon, place in a baking dish, and set aside. Repeat the process until all the dough is used.
- (Note: if you don't have a spaetzle maker, roll out small amounts of the dough on a cutting board until about 1/4-inch thick. Then use a knife to cut into pieces about 1/4-inch wide by 1-inch long -- about the size of elbow macaroni, were it straight. Scrape the pieces into the boiling water.).
- When all the spaetzle is made and in the baking dish, add the grated cheeses and use a wooden spoon to stir and distribute cheese evenly throughout the spaetzle. Sprinkle onion over top.
- Place in oven for 5 to 10 minute, just enough to melt cheese and reheat some of the early spatzen that may have cooled down.