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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