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Qu'est-ce que c'est? De-mystifying Chicago Restaurant Menus: Spätzle

By L. Stolpman in Food on Jun 11, 2008 3:30PM

Sp%C3%A4tzle.jpgWe had the pleasure of eating that plate of spätzle (sometimes spelled as spaetzle) you see to the left while in Switzerland recently, alongside a nice pork cutlet. So what is spätzle?

Spätzle is a type of pasta/dumpling popular in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other surrounding countries. It is made with eggs and flour, a dash of salt and often a liquid (water or milk) to thin it a bit. The spätzle can be made by pressing the dough through a sieve or colander (as described here) over a pot of just boiling water. The little dumplings formed by the fallen dough float to the top when done. They taste exactly like you'd expect: similar to pasta or a dumpling, tender with just a hint of bite or chewiness. Spätzle can be flavored with additional ingredients, as well: Pureed apple in the dough makes it a great complement to veal. Or you can add some herbs. We like ours straight up naked, flavored, or sauced.

Want to give spätzle a try? Here are some Chicago restaurants where you can get a taste:

Glunz Bavarian Haus (4128 N. Lincoln): Cheese Spatzle sautéed with marjoram and onions, swiss, fontina and parmesan cheese, garnished with fried onion rings. They also serve a Spinach Spatzle in a white wine cream sauce and sun dried tomatoes, melted with fontina cheese and parmesan.

Chicago Brauhaus (4712 N. Lincoln) and Mirabell Restaurant and Lounge (3454 W. Addison) also serve spätzle as a side to many of their dishes.

There's no doubt about it. Spätzle is special.