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Spaetzle with Browned Butter (German Dumplings)

Serves 4

If you have never made German Spaetzle from scratch, you really should give it a try. Spaetzle are a cross between tiny noodles and dumplings. The term translates to 'little sparrow'. Since the dough does not get kneaded, rolled and cut, they are very quick and easy to make, and go well with all types of foods. Serve spaeztle as a side dish in place of potatoes, rice, pasta or other dumplings. They are delicious with a sauce or gravy from a meat entree spooned on top. They are also perfect to add to soups. Though not certain, I suspect that Pennsylvania Dutch rivels came from spaetzle. Several sources suggest the difference is that milk is not added to rivel dough. I love spaetzle with browned butter, but you can just use melted butter. See the notes below for various methods for forming spaetzle.

Ingredients

In a large bowl, stir or whisk together the flour, salt and nutmeg. Add the eggs and milk; stir until thoroughly combined. Let dough rest about 15 minutes before cooking.

Heat a large pot of lightly salted water until boiling. Add the spaetzle (see notes below for method) and cook until done, about 4 minutes. (The dumplings will float on top of the water when done.) Drain well.

Brown the butter in a medium skillet, being careful not to burn. Add the drained spaetzle, season with salt and pepper, and toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

Notes: Nutmeg is not found in every spaetzle recipe. I like it in this version. You can add less or omit it. There are several spaetzle makers available. One is just like a potato ricer with different size holes. Another looks like a flat grater that fits across the top of the pot. It has a hopper into which you place the dough, that slides back and forth over the grater, pushing the dough through the holes. That is what I have. It works very well and was inexpensive. Many recipes suggest you use a colander if you do not have a regular spaetzle maker. I tried that years ago and, quite frankly, it did not work well and was terribly messy. It is possible that my colander holes were too large, or that the first dough I made was not quite the correct consistency. However, since I have seen chefs make spaetzle that way, you might want to give it a try. If it works for you, it will save a little money and space needed to store another kitchen gadget.