Think of this as German Mac & Cheese . . . from scratch!
A recipe of German, Austrian, and even Alsatian origin, käsespätzle is the ideal side dish for hearty meat and poultry dishes like braised beef or schnitzel (pictured). Käsespätzle means cheese (käse) noodles shaped like little sparrows (spätzle). These small noodles made with eggs are traditionally made with a special tool called a spätzlebrett, a spätzle board. A colander or potato ricer works just as well. The dough is pressed through the holes right into salted boiling water and cooks for a few brief minutes. Grated Briette Creamy & Mild cheese is then added to the cooked spätzle in layers and baked in a casserole. This scrumptious comfort food - perfect for Oktoberfest! - is all about technique, not torture!
Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; large mixing bowl; wet and dry measuring cups; measuring spoons; Polish dough hook or fork; stockpot or Dutch oven; potato ricer or colander; slotted spoon or strainer; rimmed sheet pan; large spoon; box grater; small casserole
2, 4.4-ounce Briette Creamy & Mild
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
"Briette Creamy & Mild cheese - made with high-quality pasteurized cow’s milk from cows that graze in the Allgäu region of Bavaria - is a soft-ripened cheese, perfect for a käsespätzle."
1. Remove the two cheese discs from their boxes (but still sealed in their individual containers). Place the sealed cheeses in the freezer for one hour.
ILOC tip: freezing the cheese briefly makes it much easier to grate and arrange in layers atop the spätzle.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the spätzle dough. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Set aside.
3. Combine the beaten eggs and milk and pour in the flour well. Using a dough hook or dinner fork, gradually draw in the flour into the wet ingredients until a batter forms. Allow the dough to rest for 20-30 minutes before cooking.
"Allowing the dough to rest before cooking it helps to relax the gluten, thus yielding a more tender noodle."
4. Set a large pot of salted water over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, spoon a few spoonfuls of the batter into the potato ricer or colander set over the pot, pressing the dough through the holes.
ILOC tip: if using a potato ricer (pictured), remove the vessel from the grip contraption and use the disc with the largest holes for the best results.
5. Cook the spätzle in batches until they rise to the surface of the boiling water and simmer for a minute, for a total of 2-3 minutes
6. Place 1 tablespoon of butter on a large sheet pan and set aside. Using a strainer or slotted spoon, remove the spätzle from the boiling water, shaking off any excess water, and place on the sheet pan with the butter. Stir with a spoon to melt the butter and coat the spätzle.
7. Once you have cooked the first half batch of dough, add another tablespoon of butter to the sheet pan and proceed as previously noted with the second batch of dough. Mix well to coat the spätzle in butter. If using the optional parsley, sprinkle with the the chopped parsley and stir to combine. Set aside.
8. Preheat the oven to 400F with the oven rack placed on the center rung. Use the remaining tablespoon of butter to coat the casserole. Set aside.
9. Remove the two discs of cheese from the freezer and remove from the packaging. Grate the cheese on the large teeth of a box grater.
10. Layer one third of the spätzle into the greased casserole. Sprinkle evenly with one third of the grated cheese. Repeat twice more (the final layer should be the last third of grated cheese). Place in the oven uncovered and bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 side dish servings.