Spaeltzle is a German egg noodle that — when using a spaeltzle maker — come out looking like tiny pear shaped sparrows. However, it can be very easily made without having a spaeltzle maker — although they will not have that same pear shaped, bird-like body.
If out of noodles and not up to making homemade, these are a great “go to” because they are really super easy to make! Just push through the slots on a slotted spoon right into the boiling water!
You can make a sauce separately to pour over top just before serving if desired. Although, normally, they are eaten without sauce as a side dish — just like pasta, rice, or dumplings — topped with fresh herbs.
I have also used spaeltzle in place of flat dumplings for smaller batches of chicken and dumplings whenever not up to rolling and cutting any out — but make sure the chicken soup is fully cooked first and the broth is boiling hot before adding them —- and they are done as soon as they float to the top which doesn’t take long at all — only about 30 seconds. I only use for small batches of chicken and dumplings though since they do NOT hold up very well as refrigerated and later reheated left overs.
Spaeltzle (Little Sparrows)
2 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional
4 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 5 medium — or if small use 5 small plus one yolk)
1/2 cup buttermilk (do NOT substitute sour milk)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or bacon grease
In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, nutmeg, and salt.
Make a well in the middle and add the beaten eggs and buttermilk into the center of the well.
Blend well with a wooden spoon until evenly moistened; the dough will be very thick and wet.
Cover with plastic wrap or a shower cap and allow to rest at room temperature for 15 to 18 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. If desired, water may be salted but it is not necessary.
If using an actual spaeltzle maker, which forms the little pear or sparrow shapes, place the dough in the hopper and slide the carriage back and forth, allowing it to drop pear-shaped bits of egg noodle dumplings directly into the boiling water.
If you do not have a spaeltzle maker, the dough can simply be pressed through a large holed colander or a slotted spoon into the boiling water.
I prefer using a slotted spoon. It’s much easier plus the spoon is much easier to clean afterwards than a colander.
Simmer the spaeltzle, uncovered, until they float back up to the surface, about 30 seconds.
Remove with a fine-mesh strainer or slotted spoon, shake off the excess water. Place into a shallow dish or pan lined with a lint free linen cup towel.
You can stop here once all the noodles are cooked and toss them with some butter and herbs if desired. Or, move on to the next step if desired.
I highly recommend the next step, especially if planning to pour a sauce over top.
Melt butter or heat bacon grease in skillet.
When hot, lift and hold the edge of the towel so that it does not fall into the skillet — while using it to help move the spaeltzle over — and pour the spaeltzle carefully into the skillet.
Fry the spaeltzle for a 2 or 3 minutes.
Serve immediately as a side dish.
Although traditionally eaten plain or with a sprinkling of fresh herbs, if desired, can also make a sauce (cheese or cream) to drizzle over top just before serving. I have also drizzled with herb and pepper seasoned olive oil.
My favorite way to eat them, however, is in the traditional manner –boiled, then fried in butter or bacon grease, and topped with fresh herbs such as parsley.
For breakfast, I like to sprinkle them with a bit of brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon instead of herbs!