Right now, it’s cold here in Boston. To be precise: 0 °F ( -18 °C), with a RealFeel temperature of -22 °F (-30 °C). Pretty bad, hmm. So what could you possibly do to withstand the cold weather, except of wearing warm clothing and imagining yourself on a nice beach? I would suggest eating a pile of carbs with melted cheese, sprinkled with caramelized onions. Why else would Käsespätzle be the typical and cherished après-ski dish in Austria?
In central Europe people usually use a special spaetzle making device called Spätzlesieb or Spätzlehobel. But if you don’t have one of these, you can use a colander with large holes or a vegetable grater instead. I think you get the idea. If the holes of your device are rather small (please not smaller than ¼ inch), add slightly more water to the batter (max. ¼ cup), so the batter will not clog the holes. Just scoop some batter, about ½ cup, onto a grater or into a colander and press it into simmering salted water with a spatula. When all of the batter has been used, wait another 2 minutes before you drain the spaetzle. Voilà, easy isn’t it? If you are cooking for more than 2 persons, it’s better to cook the spaetzle in batches and remove the ready ones with a slotted spoon. This way you make sure that all spatzle are cooked for the same amount of time.
About the cheese. In Austria I would use any type of Bergkäse (“mountain cheese”) which are firm, have a strong and rather sharp flavor and melt well. You can use Swiss cheese (Emmental) or Gruyère, I even tried spaetzle with sharp aged cheddar and it turned out very nice.
Cheese Spaetzle with Caramelized Onions
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cups + 3 tablespoons water (200 ml)*
- 2 cups all purpose flour (250 g / 8 ¾ oz)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 small yellow onion (80 g)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (14 g)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (14 g)
- 1 cup grated, strongly flavored cheese such as Swiss (Emmental) or Gruyère (100 g / 3 ½ oz)
- In a mixing bowl whisk egg and water until well combined, then add flour and salt until you get a lump free and pretty thick, sticky batter. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile cut the onion in half lengthwise and slice it finely into even rings.
- Heat oil and butter together in a big pan, add the sliced onion and cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes or until onions turn golden brown, stirring often. Set aside. In case there is any oil/butter left in the pan, leave it. Unless there are black particles from frying the onion, in that case, discard it.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Carefully hold a spaetzle maker (or a colander/veggie grater with large holes) over the boiling water. Place about ½ cup of the batter on the spatzle maker/colander and press it into the simmering water using a spatula or the back of a spoon. Repeat until all of the batter has been used.
- Cook the spaetzle for an additional 2 minutes until they all float on the surface, then drain.
- Put spaetzle into the pan where you cooked the onions. If there is no butter/oil left, add 1 teaspoon butter. Heat butter, and when melted, add spaetzle and cheese. Stir over medium heat until cheese has melted.
- Scatter the caramelized onion over the spaetzle and serve.
* If your batter is too thick and you can't press it through the holes of your colander/veggie grater, you can add more water to the batter (max. ¼ cup, 60 ml).
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