German Mac & Cheese - The Ultimate Käsespätzle Recipe
Welcome to the hearty world of German cuisine! Today, we’re exploring the comfort food classic – Käsespätzle, also lovingly known as German Mac & Cheese. This dish, rich in tradition and packed with flavor, is sure to become a favorite in your home, just as it is in ours.
The Origins of Käsespätzle
Käsespätzle, hailing from the Swabia region in Southern Germany, is a beloved dish of soft egg noodles (spätzle) lavishly coated in melted cheese (käse). It’s Germany’s delicious answer to the American mac & cheese, and it’s a staple in every German household. This hearty dish is a perfect blend of comfort and indulgence, with a rustic charm that is quintessentially German.
The Dough: The Heart of Spätzle
The Spätzle dough is simple, typically consisting of eggs, flour, salt, and a bit of water or milk. The magic, however, lies in the consistency.
Your Spätzle dough should be much thicker than pancake batter but not as firm as traditional pasta dough. It should slowly fall off a spoon when lifted, indicating it’s ready to be transformed into those delightful little noodles.
Here’s a basic Spätzle dough recipe to start:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup milk or water
- 1 teaspoon salt
Simply whisk together the eggs, milk (or water), and salt, then gradually add the flour, stirring until it’s fully incorporated. The resulting dough should be smooth, glossy, and thick.
Tools of the Trade: Different Equipment for Making Spätzle
While you can make Spätzle with basic kitchen tools, specialized equipment can make the process easier and more efficient.
Spätzle Maker or Press
A Spätzle maker or press is specifically designed for this task. You simply fill the hopper with dough and either push or slide it to extrude the Spätzle directly into simmering water. They come in different styles, but all accomplish the same task.
Colander or Slotted Spoon
If you don’t have a Spätzle maker, a colander with large holes or a slotted spoon can be a handy alternative. Place a portion of dough in the colander or on the spoon and press it through the holes using a spatula or spoon, directly into the simmering water.
Cutting Board and Scraper
The most traditional method involves a wetted wooden cutting board and a scraper or knife. The dough is spread thinly on the board and scraped into boiling water. This method requires some practice but is well worth the effort for its authentic results.
The Joy of Homemade Spätzle
Remember, patience and practice are key when making Spätzle from scratch. It might take a few tries to get the perfect dough consistency or to get comfortable with your chosen equipment. But once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll be rewarded with delicious, homemade Spätzle, ready to be sautéed in butter, tossed with cheese for Käsespätzle, or served as a delightful side to your favorite dishes.
Tips & Tricks for the Perfect Käsespätzle
Here are some insider tips to make your German Mac & Cheese truly stand out:
- Quality Cheese: Use high-quality cheese for the best flavor. Emmentaler or Swiss cheese is traditional, but feel free to experiment.
- Caramelized Onions: Don’t rush the onions. Slow-cooked, caramelized onions add a delightful sweetness that perfectly complements the savory cheese.
- Homemade Spätzle: If you have time, homemade Spätzle is worth the effort. The texture and flavor are superior to store-bought varieties.
Variations of Käsespätzle
Like any classic dish, Käsespätzle lends itself to numerous variations. Here are a few ideas to inspire your culinary creativity:
- Add-ins: Consider adding crispy bacon or sautéed mushrooms for an extra layer of flavor.
- Cheese Variations: Try different cheeses like Gruyère, Cheddar, or even a blue cheese for a unique twist.
- Herbs and Spices: Nutmeg, garlic, or fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary can add an interesting flavor profile to your Käsespätzle.
German Mac & Cheese - Käsespätzle
- Spaetzle Maker or Colander with big holes
- 2 cups All-purpose Flour
- 4 large Eggs
- ¼ cup Milk
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 2 large Onions thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- 2 cups Emmentaler or Swiss cheese grated
- 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Fresh chopped Parsley for garnish
- Prepare the Spätzle Dough: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Gradually add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, stirring until the dough is smooth and elastic.2 cups All-purpose Flour, 4 large Eggs, 1 tsp. Salt, ¼ cup Milk
- Boil the Spätzle: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Using a spätzle maker or a colander with large holes, press the dough through directly into the boiling water. Cook the spätzle until they float to the surface, then continue to boil for another 2-3 minutes. Drain well.
- Fry the Onions: While the spätzle is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook slowly, stirring occasionally until they become golden brown and caramelized. This may take about 15-20 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan and set them aside.2 large Onions, 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- Assemble the Käsespätzle: In the same pan you used for the onions, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the cooked spätzle to the pan and toss to coat in the butter. Gradually add the grated cheese, stirring until it's fully melted and coats the spätzle evenly.2 cups Emmentaler or Swiss cheese, 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- Serve the Käsespätzle: Season the Käsespätzle with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the caramelized onions. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve immediately. Enjoy your homemade German Mac & Cheese, or as we say in Germany, Guten Appetit!Salt & Pepper, Fresh chopped Parsley