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?
Kitchen tools for making spaetzle
In central Europe people usually use a special spaetzle making device called spaetzle maker (Spätzlesieb or Spätzlehobel).
I usually use a spaetzle maker with a slider basket (like this or this) but in the past, I’ve also worked with my roommate’s spaetzle lid with scraper. Later, when living in the US, I simply used a colander with large holes in the beginning, which at some point I replaced with a handmade spaetzle colander that I made in my ceramic class at MIT in Cambridge.
All of these devices worked perfectly, although I often simply used a soft (silicone) spatula to push the batter through the holes when using a spaetzle lid (and not the scraper it comes with). They are always on hand and perfect for the job.
But as I’ve mentioned, even though these spaetzle maker devices come in handy, you can use a colander with large holes or a flat vegetable grater with the flat surface facing up 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 floating on the surface 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.
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- 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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This chees-y spaetzle with caramelised onions just looks and sounds SO incredibly delicious and comforting too. I definitely need to try the recipe!
thanks! Yes, that’s comfort food at its best ;-), the Austrian version of mac & cheese…
Made these a couple of months ago for the BBC – spreading the word, it seems, one Spätzle at a time ;-)
Great, they should spread ;-) I just like Spätzle, it’s a simple, yet beautiful dish.
It’s not as bad as Boston here in NYC but it’s pretty bad- we’ve had a few days where the windchill brought it to -20 or something.
This looks perfect for the cold weather- carbs and cheese is where it’s at. Seriously.
Brrrrr. Tomorrow will be another day with -20°C (-4°F) here in Boston. So it’s time for melted cheeeeeeez again.
Is it ok to make the dough ahead of time?
Hi Kathy, Honestly, I’ve never made the dough ahead of time. One hour ahead was probably the most I’ve tried. But I don’t see a reason why it shouldn’t work. Put the batter in the fridge. And in case it thickens a lot, just add a little water. Hope that helps! Let me know how it turned out. Ursula
Tried making spaetzle for the first time with this recipe. I followed it exactly and the batter was so thick and sticky, it was impossible to get it through the holes in the spaetzle maker. What was supposed to be simple was anything but. Made a mess of my kitchen, I worked up a sweat, it took way longer than it should have. My frustration level was off the charts! I’ll definitely look for different recipes.
So sorry for my late reply. I just noticed your comment now. So sorry to hear that. I know how frustrating it is when a recipe doesn’t work out as it is supposed to be. I have made this recipe many, many times and even made this exact recipe with my students at the Austrian cuisine cooking class I taught a few times. It worked out every time. The only reason I can think of is the type of flour or amount. I usually use all-purpose flour from Whole Foods (their 365 brand), as well as King Arthur’s all-purpose flour. It seems that your batter was too thick. Have your also read the note at the bottom of the recipe to add up to 1/4 cup more water if the batter is too thick? Have you tried this? I can only suggest to add as much water as necessary to be able to press the batter through the holes of the spaetzle maker. I really hope that you’ll give it another try. This is one of my dearest and most fool-proof recipes and I hate seeing it not working out. Again, really sorry that it caused a mess in your kitchen!! All the best, Ursula