Sunday, March 25, 2012

German Dinner - Spaetzle, Schnitzel and Braised Cabbage

So the idea for this meal began when my mother called me and said she was cleaning out her kitchen cabinets and asked if I wanted some things.  Things turned out to be cast iron muffin pans, a heart shaped cake pan and a spaetzle maker.  I decided that since I was now the proud owner of a spaetzle maker, in a box with all of the directions in German, that I should learn how to use it.  And I couldn't just make spaetzle, I had to make a whole dinner.  I also decided I should have some friends over to test these new recipes and techniques on.  I figured if it didn't turn out well we could always order some pizzas.  The dinner invitation went something like this:

Maggie  I have a spaetzle maker, want to come over for German dinner?
Mike  Heck yes!
Maggie  When do you and Kim get back?
Mike  We are back.  When is dinner?
Maggie  Ummmm.  Sunday?
Mike  We'll be there.  Can I make sachertorte?
Maggie  YES!  I love cake. 

So there you have it.  German dinner planned.  And so began the mission to find recipes and instructions that were not written in German.  I thought perhaps the German exchange student in my Art 3 class might be able to help me out.  I asked her what she usually ate with spaetzle.  She told me sauce.  Not all that helpful.  Anyway.  I found some recipes that looked good and dove right in.

So let's get to it.

Fresh Herb Spaetzle
Bon Appetit March 2006

makes 4 servings

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper (I used freshly ground black pepper)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
8 tsp minced assorted fresh herbs (I used rosemary and parsley), divided

4 tbls butter, divided
2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth (I used a full cup)

In a large bowl mix together flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Mix in eggs, milk and half of the minced herbs.  You will have a very soft and sticky dough.

Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a hard boil.  Butter a large bowl and set to the side.  Set the spaetzle maker on top of the pot of boiling water.

If you are eating Veggie Booty while cooking pause and compare the Veggie Booty to the spaetzle dough.  Wonder if the spaetzle will look like the Veggie Booty when it is ready.

Back to the recipe.

Work with 1/3 cup of the dough at a time.  Scoop the dough into the hopper and run it back and forth until all of the dough has dropped into the boiling water.  

Cook for two minutes.  Stir with a spoon to keep the dumplings from sticking to each other and forming a big glob.

Use a slotted spoon or a small sieve to fish the spaetzle out of the boiling water.  Let it drain well in a colander and then transfer to the buttered bowl.

Repeat until all of the dough has been cooked.  You can do all of this up to three hours ahead of when you wish to serve the spaetzle.  Don't refrigerate, let it stand at room temperature.


Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add onion and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon oil, and spaetzle. Saute until spaetzle begins to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add 3/4 cup broth. Simmer until broth is absorbed, adding more broth if it looks dry. Mix in remaining herbs; season with salt and pepper.

Spaetzle done!  On to the next!

Quick Braised Red Cabbage and Apple
Gourmet October 2007 

makes 4 to 6 servings

1 garlic clove, smashed
3 tbls unsalted butter
2 lb red cabbage, cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (I sliced mine into strips 1/4 inch long strips)
1 Gala or Fuji apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup unfiltered apple cider
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 whole allspice (optional), crushed (I didn't use any allspice but I did sprinkle in a bit of ground cloves - less than 1/4 tsp.)
1 1/2 tbls apple-cider vinegar

This is seriously the easiest part of the whole dinner.  For serious.

In a large skillet with a lid, I used my Dutch oven, cook garlic in the butter, stirring, for about one minute.  Add cabbage, apple, cider, caraway, allspice (if using), 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Cook, covered, for 15 to 18 minutes stirring occasionally until the cabbage is tender.

Add the vinegar and stirring occasionally cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until all of the liquid has evaporated.  Season with salt and pepper.


And last but not least...  The chicken schnitzel!

I don't have any pictures for this little segment.  I don't think it is a good idea to try an take pictures while you are frying things.

And Kim and Mike had arrived at this point.  Things got very exciting.  Taj, Kim and Mike's French Bulldog, and Pippa were chasing each other.  I was putting the spaetzle and the cabbage in the oven to keep warm.  Mike was talking about the sachertorte and his MOAT growler coozie

So here we go.  Chicken schnitzel.  Let the butterfest continue!

Panko-Coated Chicken Schnitzle
Thomas Keller

1 cup flour 
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups panko  
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each), butterflied and pounded
1/4-inch-thick (I had 3 large chicken breasts which I butterflied and then had Mike pound flat with a rolling pin, it was loud) 
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup canola oil 
6 tbls butter 
2 tsp capers 
2 tbls lemon juice 
1 tbls chopped parsley

Put the flour, eggs and panko in separate large dishes.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Dredge in four and shake off any extra.  Dip in egg.  Coat thoroughly with panko.  Press with your hands to make sure the panko is really stuck on!

In two large skillets divide and heat the canola oil, you may need to add a little more.  Cook the chicken for about three minutes, you many need more time depending on the size of the chicken and the thickness, turning once.  Be sure to check for doneness!  You don't want undercooked chicken ruining your German dinner!

In a small sauce pan melt the butter and cook for about 4 minutes until browned and nutty.

You may think at this point that you are nutty.  It is ok.  Don't worry about it.  Butter is good for you!  And I am sure you will find someone to help you wash all of the pans.

Stir in the capers, parsley and lemon juice.  Spoon over the chicken and serve!

We ended up cutting the chicken in half so we had six pieces.  Perfect for Monday lunches!

You may notice there isn't caper butter sauce on the chicken in the picture.  We ate it all.  There wasn't any left for the blog photo.  Guess that tells you how good it was!


My goodness this was a long post.  But you have a whole meal here.  I hope you give it a try!  And if you don't have a spaetzle maker don't worry about it.  Maybe your mother will be cleaning out her kitchen cabinets soon!

Oh.  I took some of the left over spaetzle in for my German exchange student.  She said it was almost as good as her Mom's!  YEAH DOG!

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