Pumpkin Spaetzle with Bacon
Well the holidays are over – and I can’t really say that it’s a bad thing. It’s probably been both one of the best and one of the worst holiday seasons ever for me. For the first time I was able to host a celebration with a large group of close friends for the Solstice, and I also got my techy-foodie bankai on with some friends for New Years. (Even if I did feel like a moron next to all the super smart people there)
However, it’s also been the last couple of months of the year, where Mr. Man has been working like crazy trying to meet a pushed up deadline. Sometimes pulling twelve or fourteen hour days at work and essentially pushing aside some of the other activities we might have wanted to do. We’ve spent much of the last couple of weeks decompressing from that – which would account for the (very) delayed holiday January cards… that I still haven’t sent out. Or written up. Or the family pictures that I still need to get done. Or presents that need to be sent out. I know, I suck. The fact that decompressing ended up involving Me, Mr. Man, the couch and us restarting Final fantasy XII from the beginning might also be a factor… Mr. Man and I both tend to get sucked in to video games, pretty much until we beat them. So I’ll try to get those cards out soon, loved ones. Maybe while Mr. Man is grinding for some phatz lootz. lol
So I’d like to claim that I haven’t been posting very much lately due to busy-ness, but the truth is that it’s just the opposite. I haven’t been posting much because of supreme laziness. I made up a big ol’ batch of soup a few days back which we leftover’d on for couple of days, I dug some things from the freezer that I’d put aside over the summer and we had some quick and easy meals from there, etc… Truth be told there’s been a lot of “Let’s quickly make something easy to eat so we can go back to playing the video game” going on. lol
But I did want to start getting shtuff done, so yesterday I mustered up some gumption and got in the kitchen to try making spätzle. Originally I was thinking of making Gnocchi, but ultimately I decided that would probably be a better … ah… family… activity. Assuming Mr. Man and Miss Thing manage to clear up those ‘scheduling conflicts’ that occur whenever I bring up making gnocchi together. Strangely, they seem to become inexplicably busy and/or occupied whenever I mention it. It’s très bizzarre.
Spaetzle seemed like a simpler one-person project to try out – and I’d been promising Mr. Man that I would make him some homemade Spaetzle for ages. Whenever we go to our favorite German restaurant in the city we always get a big heaping plate of Spaetzle – it’s one of our favorites. Usually served up with a big slice of Schnitzel and some mushroom gravy. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the foresight to put pork or veal on my last Planet Organics order to make a themed meal of it, but I don’t think Mr. Man or Miss Thing will be complaining, because this dish really shined on it’s own merits – no Schnitzel required.
My original plan, to make gnocchi, had stemmed from a desire to use up some Pumpkin Puree that I had leftover from making the Pumpkin and Collard Pasta a while back. Squash gnocchi is particularly common in the fall, and it seemed like it should be a simple enough swap – squash for potatoes. And it’s still on my list, methinks. I’ve managed to develop quite a backlog of squash that needs to be eaten. I imagine Mr. Man and Miss Thing are going to probably get quite full up on it before too long. Somehow I’ve managed to stock pile 3 butternut squash, 1 kabocha squash, 1 spaghetti squash, and several smaller squash. I’m not sure how that happened. Fortunately, they don’t go bad quickly – but that really isn’t an excuse, and I want to use them up and enjoy them – it’s one of the reasons I’ve taken a little bit of a FFTY hiatus the last couple of weeks. I figured not having more perishable produce would motivate me to use up the squash.
When I made the switch to Spaetzle instead of gnocchi, I decided that I still wanted to use the pumpkin puree – so I started looking around to see if anyone else had ever made spaetzle with squash puree before. I came across this post over at Serious Eats for a Squash Spaetzle and used it as kind of a proof of concept. Yes, you can use squash in spaetzle. However, I didn’t really use their recipe – opting instead to make my own, since it didn’t really seem like a complex set of ingredients. I started out by seeing how much squash puree I had, and then working the other ingredients around it. Originally, I thought it would be more complex, but honestly, I think that as long as you don’t throw the entire bowl of batter in to the cooking water at once, it’d be pretty hard to mess these up.
For hardware, you probably already have everything you need – I didn’t use any specialized tools to make them. I used the steaming insert for one of my smaller pans as my colander, because I liked that it had larger holes, but a regular colander would do just as well. Although it was fine with the colander, next time I make spaetzle, I think I’m going to try using my potato ricer. Pushing the batter through the colander resulted in very short, small spaetzle. They were yummy, don’t get me wrong – but I think that if I were to use the ricer I might get something more resembling longer strands. A lot of the recipes I looked at specified using a wooden spoon to press through the colander – which you can use, don’t get me wrong – but I had a much easier time when I switched to my silicone, heat resistant spatula. The batter didn’t stick to it as much, and it was a little easier for me to use. But whatever you have on hand should be fine. In fact, if you don’t have a colander, I saw several posts where people would just flick little dollops of batter straight from a spoon. I don’t really think there’s a ‘wrong’ way to make spaetzle.
If it’s your first time making it, set aside about two hours to get the feel for it. Next time, I think it will go much faster for me since I know a little better what I should be doing, and it won’t take as long. But I also made a pretty big batch. I wanted to have enough for (atleast) two meals. Fresh from the cooking water, the spaetzle were delicious – tossed with a little butter and a light sprinkling of salt, I would say they were highly nom-worthy. However, they really went to the next level when I did a little pan-frying to brown them up a little bit for dinner. They were amazing, and I can see homemade spaetzle making it in to the regular rotation of meals around here, especially with a little practice to cut down on the preparation time. They will also keep for a couple of days in the fridge, so if you need to, you can make them up before hand and then trot them out for guests or something – they’ll be all impressed and give you lots of kudos. Just don’t tell them how easy it is – it’ll be our little secret.
I would also add a couple of things – the pumpkin puree I used was pretty liquidy. Many, if not all, of the spaetzle recipes I saw called for milk. I skipped the milk because I felt like there was enough liquid in my pumpkin puree. If your squash puree is thicker and harder to work with, feel free to add some milk back in a little bit at a time. My batter was like a very thick muffin batter – sticky, and viscous – but holding together well enough to stick to a spoon when lifted out and not terribly drippy. But remember, it’s pretty easy to make up a test batch and add more flour if you want to. It’s a little harder to try and take the flour out if you decide there’s too much.
- 5 eggs
- 2 and 1/2 cups Pumpkin (or other Squash) Puree
- Appx 3 cups Flour
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- softened butter
- Whisk together the eggs and the Pumpkin Puree until well combined
- Stir in the kosher salt and a scant cup of the flour, whisk to combine
- Continue adding flour, a quarter to half a cup at a time until batter reaches a thick muffin batter consistency. (Sticky, viscous and holding together well when a spoon full is lifted out of the bowl)
- Set batter aside to rest for a few minutes while bringing a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil
- If using, place colander over the pot of boiling water
- Working in batches, press the spaetzle batter through the holes of the colander (if using – alternatively ‘flick’ drops of batter from a spoon in to the water or use a ricer) until the top of the water is full of bobbing spaetzles
- Allow to cook for 30-60 seconds (depending on size) then scoop out the spaetzles and place in a bowl.
- Repeat until all batter has been used up – refreshing cooking water as neccessary.
- When all the spaetzle has been cooked, drain again to remove any excess water, then toss with a little bit of butter
- Refrigerate until ready to use
After I made the spaetzle and chilled it – I had to decide on something to do with it. Bacon was of course, the obvious choice – since everything is better with bacon… Plus I had some thick slices of Fatted Calf bacon that I’d picked up last time I went to the Farmer’s Market. But if you’re anti-bacon, you could just sub the bacon grease for a little butter, and skip it. They’ll still be delicious, I promise. I was also thinking of tossing it with cheese and baking it, but to be honest – it didn’t end up needing it. In fact, it probably would have overwhelmed the spaetzle. Instead, I just did a light sprinkling of cheese on top and baked it just long enough to brown – and it was perfect. Both Mr. Man and Miss Thing also dubbed it a huge success. Miss Thing didn’t even realize it had <gasp> squash in it until I told her. At which point she kind of shrugged and said “So? I can’t taste it.” I think we’re making progress there. Of some kind. Not really sure if that response was on the positive or the negative side though. lol
Spaetzle with Bacon Ingredients:
- 1/2 a batch of Spaetzle (recipe above)
- 3 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 small onion; finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic; minced
- 1 sprig of Rosemary; finely minced
- 1/3 cup shredded Gouda
Spaetzle with Bacon Method:
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy
- Remove bacon to a paper towel to cool
- Pour off all but a teeny bit of bacon grease
- Add the onions and saute until translucent
- Clear a space (or transfer onions to a bowl) and add the garlic and rosemary
- Heat the garlic and rosemary until fragrant, then add to the onions
- Working in batches if neccessary, lightly brown the spaetzle in residual bacon grease (can add more if pan starts to dry up or spaetzle starts to stick)
- Cut the bacon in to thin ribbons
- Toss spaetzle, bacon, onions and garlic to combine
- Spread in to an oven safe baking dish and sprinkly lightly with shredded gouda
- Place under broiler for 2-5 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly
- Serve immediately