Did you know you can “Spaeztle” right here in Chatham?

by N.A. Booko

Pittsboro, NC – And it isn’t a crime or naughty. Maybe a little tricky to say, but if anything, it is one of my most treasured recipes. I haven’t made it in decades, but the last time i did, was memorable.

Some fifty years ago, a friend gave me their treasured copy of “Amana Recipes.” It was published 1948 in Hamstead Iowa. The Amana belief is different from the Amish. Both very old religious groups. Both simple living folks.

Most of the recipes have interesting names and are of German origin. They were fond of tossing the letter “Z” into a completely normal sounding word. Unless you read German, the names of the dishes wouldn’t mean a lot to you.

One receipt is for ‘Nun’s Cake’ A simple desert and it seems simple to make. Years ago I made it and placed it in front of a German man and explained what it was. He nearly died laughing at my feeble efforts.

photo by Rudolf Vancura

But now, I did master the art of making Spaetzle; pronounced Spaetzle! A great dumpling type thing in the place of rice, grits or potatoes.

Amana Spaetzle:

One cup milk
2 cups flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
6 cups boiling water (one teaspoon salt in water)
1 and half cups dry bread crumbs (optional)

Add milk to flour slowly, stirring constantly to keep mixture smooth. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Add salt and mix well. Into a separate kettle (boiler pot) pour boiling water, add salt and set over low heat so water is kept at a simmer. Pour batter into a shallow bowl: tilt over pot and with a sharp knife slice batter into boiling water.

It is best to cradle batter dish in left arm, tilting it over boiling water. As the batter starts to slurp over the edge, you cut it free and it falls into water- Always dip the knife blade in the hot water between each cut, otherwise it will stick to dough

Let dumplings boil for five minutes then drain in a colander. Put in serving dish and top with bread crumbs that have been browned in butter. Serve hot with apple sauce.

The butter is for browning the bread crumbs.

The dough cooks rather fast. When you cut it, it falls to the bottom of boiling water. It will float to the top when cooked. A matter of minutes.

I can also see this a side dish. Maybe made with poppy seeds or fresh dill or on a grande scale fresh tarragon. Also would be great with garlic powder and or fresh ground black pepper added to the batter.

When I was eating meat (30 years ago) it was good with brown gravy. A similar gravy can be made with flour and olive oil.

I always make sure there are leftovers. They are especially good re-fried with cut up onion. No better lunch or brunch than that.

This took a lot of typing and words, but once you get the hang of it, it can be done quite quickly.

I recommend it espaetzle for you!

N.A. Booko writes and cooks in Chatham County, except for occasional take out.