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Bärlauch (Wild Garlic) Spätzle

Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Austrian
Keyword Bärlauch, Cheese, noodles, Spätzle, Wild Garlic
Author Alexandria

Ingredients

Dough

  • 300 g 00 Flour
  • 3 Eggs
  • Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg (freshly grated or powder)
  • Bärlauch Aka, ramps or wild garlic in the USA; Česnek medvědí in Czech; also ramsons

Cheese Mixture

  • Milk
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Sour Cream
  • Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg

Fried Onions

  • 1 Red or yellow onion
  • Flour, paprika

Instructions

Set up:

  • Place a large pot of water on the stove. Bring to a boil, adding in plenty of salt.
  • Pulverize the wild garlic (or chop by hand) for the dough in a food processor until very finely minced. Set aside.

Make the fried onions

  • Half and slice thin; toss in flour and paprika
  • Fry in neutral oil until golden and lightly tossed with salt

Make the dough:

  • Add the 300g flour, 3 eggs, & pinches (or two or three) of salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bowl and mix. The mixture will be and you want it to get sticky, so add splashes of milk until thoroughly mixed and sticky - but not damp! Add more flour if this has happened.
  • Add the minced bärlauch from the food processor into the dough somewhere in between splashing in the milk. The dough will begin to turn green, and this is good, so continue to mix until the bärlauch is spread out evenly. Set aside.

As the water is being brought to a boil, begin to make the cheese mixture:

  • Let me preface: I made this on a whim and it was very enjoyable, so I will share. If you do not have Parmigiano or sour cream, it's not the end. This dish has also been served topped with feta (which I loved) and I do not see why the traditional Emmentaler (like a Swiss cheese) would not work here, although this option would be a little sharp and something more subtle allows the bärlauch to be the star. Anyways, it's easy enough to adapt, so work with what you have and don't fret. In the end, you just want something that will melt and mix through the spätzle. Reach out to me if you would like and we can figure it out!
  • Heat a medium pan. Shred the Parmigiano-Reggiano (a good handful or two) and add this and a small splash of milk to the pan. Begin to mix and add a little more milk as it begins to milk. Add a dollop of sour cream, mixing and not letting anything clump or stick. If you do not have any more cheese to spare, but need the mixture to be a bit thicker, add a little corn starch or flour. Whisk this in, not letting it clump. Continue to add a dollop of cream, milk, or Parmigiano-Reggiano until the mixture is creamy and whisked through. As long as it's not to thin, it's fine to make to your liking. Add a few grinds of salt, pepper, and more nutmeg. Set aside on very low heat, and stir every so often so that it does not settle.

Make the Spätzle

  • Over the now boiling water, place the spätzle maker (or prepare your slotted spoon, colander...). Only take a bit of dough at a time. Do not put too much dough over the boiling water as the dough will become too difficult to work with.
  • Place a small amount of dough on top of the spätzle maker (or in your slotted vessel) and push the dough through the slots with either the back of a spoon or scraper (that would have likely come with the maker). It's a bit of work because the dough is pretty sticky, so I find that taking positioning the scraper (or back of the spoon) on a 45-degree angle and pushing the dough back and forth (or round and round if you are using a spoon) rather than always downwards helps push the dough through best while releasing the dough into the boiling water.
  • As the dough drops into the pot, let the noodles to boil for about 3-5 minutes as you continue to work, only then straining the noodles from the pot and placing them into a colander. Once they are moved into the colander, rinse the spätzle with cold water so that they do not stick together. Continue to push through the dough little-by-little into the water and removing the noodles until you are finished.

Forming your meal

  • Once all the dough has been shaped into noodles, heat a large pan (I prefer my cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Melt butter. Once the butter has been melted, dump the spätzle into the pan, stirring and lightly frying.
  • Optional: mix in minced, raw red onion, spring onion, fresh bärlauch
  • Stir in the cheese mixture
  • For typical Käsespätzle, I would at this point place the pan into the oven to crisp and bake, but I found that doing so here would dry up the creamy mixture we have made. So to complete your meal, simply stir, add more salt and pepper if you must, and top with the fried onions you set aside.
  • Note: I found that a small amount of sour cream on top of the spätzle was really complementary - maybe this is sacrilegious against the good Austrian people, and I do not wish to find out.

Notes

Although there are a lot of components to this meal, once you push through you will see how basic it really is. I know it's a lot, so just to recap:
  1. The dough requires one bowl - just add and mix; if you want regular spätzle, just omit the bärlauch.
  2. Push it through a surface with small holes (slotted spoon, side of a colander) if you do not have a spätzle maker.
  3. Noodles form, let boil, and remove - do this in shifts as to not overcook the noodles.
  4. Heat pan with butter, add noodles, add cheese, stir.
  5. Taste, taste, taste. Taste everything the whole time. Every recipe is YOUR recipe, so if you want more or less of something, you can only come to this conclusion by tasting.
  6. Why did I choose Parmigiano and sour cream? It's what I had. Why did I write about it? Because it worked! The Parmigiano was light and salty, thus making it an unfussy recipe in terms of adding more herbs or spices. It also maintained the essence of having a Spätzle with cheese, and I was able to add more and more to my plate without being weighed down. This also meant that it paired greatly with a lightly dressed salad. The sour cream was so fresh (admittedly from the farmers market) and carried the taste of the wild garlic without smothering it. The cheese mixture was not dense but rather created a movement in the dish.