Currently we are in Italy on our food adventure and we are loving it. This version is super easy to make, they don't call it spaetzle in Italy, they call it Chnefflene or in English, Semolina Dumplings.
What is Spaetzle, essentially it’s batter that drips into boiling water to cook into tender dumplings ready to be tossed with whatever sauce you like.
The first time though, I followed the recipe and when I made the mix and put it through my potato ricer, it poured out too easily, no resistance, like water, where I ended up with a gloppy mess, the spaetzle stuck together. So this time I have added more flour and semolina to get the right consistency to make the spaeztle. It needs to be thick enough that you have to push it through the holes, rather than it pours out. And when it hits the water it separates into individual spaetzle, not clumps of dough.
Now I have used a potato ricer to make mine, but recently I purchased two different spaetzle makers, the stainless steel one that sits over the pot pictured below, and the one that looks like a cheese grater. Jamie Oliver in his book, the Italian grandma used a colander, which she runs under cold water before using to help prevent the dough sticking to it. So there are many ways you can try this.
Spaetzle are delicate, delicious, cheap and quick to put together. Now that I know how to make them, I'll be making them for years to come.
3 large eggs
300ml full cream milk
220-250g Tipo 00 flour
220-250g fine semolina flour
Whole nutmeg, for grating, optional
Bacon and Onion Sauce:
2 large red onions, chopped
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, sliced 1cm thick
Olive oil, for frying, if needed
1 small sprig of fresh rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese , for grating
Whisk the eggs and milk together in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the Tipo 00 flour, followed by the semolina flour, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and a good few crude scrapings of nutmeg, if using, to form a fairly thick but still totally pliable and gloopy batter. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Make the sauce: Place the bacon in a cold frying pan. Put on a medium heat so the fat renders out. This will take about 2-3 minutes. Add olive olive if you feel there is not enough bacon fat in the pan, add the onion, and saute until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Place in a small sprig rosemary. Cook and stir for 5 minutes, until the bacon is crisp, the onions have started to just colour. Remove the rosemary.
Half-fill a large pan with salted water and bring up to a fast rolling boil. Now using a spaetzle maker as pictured above or a potato ricer or a metal colander with ½cm holes, you can start making your spaetzle. If the batter seems too thick, add a little extra milk, if needed, if the batter is too thin, add more flour, do a small test run with a little batter, then proceed with the rest.
Working quickly, pour half the batter into the colander and use a clean hand or a large metal whisk to swirl, or spatula, push the batter around, encouraging it to fall through the holes of the colander, straight into the water. The teardrop dumplings will cook in just 2 or 3 minutes, so once done, sieve out into your bacon sauce, and cook the second batch.
Toss with the dumplings and a splash of their cooking water to loosen. Finish with a little extra virgin olive oil and a fine grating of Parmesan cheese.
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