I love German food. At least from what I’ve had. I’ve never been there to have some authentic cuisine although that would be a pretty awesome trip. My mom has always wanted to go. On my mother’s side, we are primarily German. I wish I knew more about the cuisine and culture and where this side of my family came from but I suppose I’m learning. When I was growing up I remember my mom telling me that I had a great-aunt who still lived over there named Aunt Coonigoonda. I have no idea how that is actually spelled, I just remember that I liked to say it. Coonigoonda. I shouldn’t use the past tense there, I still like to say it. Cooooonigooonda. Teehee. I know I have issues…
So anyway, I love bratwurst, sauerkraut and spatzle. I figured it was time an Oktoberfest-type-meal here in the middle of January. Why not?
I have made spatzle before and it is not especially hard so I don’t know why it’s been so long since I made it last. Years and years actually. Booo! This certainly renewed my taste for it, so hopefully I don’t wait so long until the next time. I made a basic spatzle dough with eggs, flour, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. (You must use nutmeg- fresh grated if you can). I was going to do a simply buttered spatzle (cook the boiled spatzle in melted butter in a skillet and serve) but I thought I’d try something new that I stumbled across online: “Kaese” spatzle. Apparently this means a cheese spatzle. Not cheese in the actual dough (although I suppose I could devise something like that..) but cheese melted with the cooked spatzle after.
I even heard it referred to as a German take on macaroni and cheese. I heart macaroni and cheese. I heart spaztle. And yes, I do heart this macaroni and cheese spatzle. I’m not sure I would call it that as you don’t really make any sort of cheese sauce for it, there is just melted cheese, preferably from the Swiss family like Jarlsburg or Emmanteler. But whatever floats your boat. There are also some sauteed onions cooked down in here for extra flavor and some fresh parsley stirred in at the end for good measure. I recently read somewhere that you should try to eat something “green” at every meal so I fulfilled that requirement! Right? Hmm… 🙂
I picked up a package of small Nuremburg Bratwurst links, think about a quarter the size of a regular bratwurst link, about the size of a breakfast sausage really, so I wanted to use these for this recipe. I also didn’t want to leave the house today so I used the only sauerkraut I had on hand- canned. Not the best stuff but with the following recipe you really jazz it up so you’d never know it was canned! Render some bacon, cook onions in the bacon fat and then simmer all that with a bottle of beer and the sauerkraut before adding in the sausage for some extra simmering time and you are good to go! I served a dollop of whole-grain mustard on the side because I do love mustard with brats. Nom nom nom…. I am so happy I have leftovers to take to work tomorrow- who cares if it gives me bad breath, it’s worth it! My only regret with this meal is that I didn’t have a pretzel roll to serve alongside. I suppose I could have made some pretzel dough this morning but I was too busy with another project (to be revealed as a Daring Baker’s challenge at the end of the month!).
I won’t hesitate to make this meal again. Whatever bratwurst you like would work in this. If you use raw ones just make sure you simmer them a bit longer so they cook through. Mine were precooked and just needed to be heated through so they only took about 15 minutes.
Sauerkraut with Beer, Bacon and Brats
- 3 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into lardons
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 lb. sauerkraut, well drained
- 12 oz. of light to medium bodied beer
- 4-6 bratwurst links (or 8-10 small links)
- In a large sauté pan render the bacon lardons over medium heat
- Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate
- Add the onions to bacon fat and cook until golden
- Deglaze pan with the beer, scraping to get any brown bits off the bottom of the pan
- Stir in the sauerkraut
- Cover and lightly simmer for 15 minutes
- Return bacon to the pan along with the sausage and simmer for another 15 minutes (or until your brats are cooked through- the actual time for this will depend on if you use pre-cooked links or not)
I love this stuff. Nom nom.
(Adapted from “Spatzle” from Cook’s Illustrated and “Kaese Spatzle” on allrecipes.com)
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 ½ cups Jarlsburg, Swiss or Emmentaler cheese
- 2 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
- Beat eggs, milk, and seasonings in a medium bowl. Stir in flour to form a smooth but thick batter; let batter rest for 10 minutes.
- While the batter rests, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and stir in 1 tbsp. of salt
- Using a spatzle maker, a large colander or the holes on a cheese grater (with large holes) pass ½ of the dough through the device into the boiling water
- Boil until the spatzle floats, 1-2 minutes
- Remove with a slotted spoon or spider to a bowl and repeat with the remaining dough
- Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until golden.
- Stir in spatzle to coat.
- Stir in the cheese until melted
- Stir in the parsley and serve immediately
I found that using a cheese grater was easiest for me. I have a flat one that rests easily over the top of my pan and the angle of the holes on this assisted in forcing the dough through them and into the water. Using a colander worked but was a bit more time consuming and required more elbow grease. I don’t think it’s necessary, unless I start making a LOT of spatzle, to go out and by a spatzle maker. But if you have one, more power to you, I’m sure it’s even easier!
I must admit that I think I prefer plain buttered and herbed spatzle to these cheese ones as the flavor of the dumpling itself is allowed to shine through but these are pretty darn good and are a nice change of pace. They are also great re-heated!
And by the way, I don’t know the proper way to spell “spatzle”. Maybe it’s spaetzle maybe its spatzle maybe it’s spatzel… All I know is they are German dumplings and they’re delicious!