Cheesy, Brown Butter Spaetzle is the Coziest Dish You'll Have This Weekend

December 15, 2017

Every so often, we scour the site for cool recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature. This rich, stick-to-your-ribs comfort meal comes from member TiggyBee, and is exactly what you're craving right now.

Sometimes you need something that's not a lemony salad, not a grain bowl, not a greens-filled soup, however good and balanced those things might be. Instead, you need a serving of pure comfort. That's exactly what community member TiggyBee gives us in her spaetzle recipe, which calls for the homemade Austrian/German dumplings to be crisped in brown butter and combined with sweet, roasted shallots, sautéed mushrooms, and nutty gruyere. As TiggyBee write: this dish "rank[s] right up there in the comfort food category." And, after testing, we have to say she is 100% correct.

Good news: getting this spaetzle on your table this weekend is not as tricky as you might think. First, you'll whip up a quick, eggy dumpling batter and let it rest for an hour in the fridge. Most spaetzle recipes call for a rest to let the flour fully hydrate, but I found that a much shorter rest—10 to 15 minutes—at room temperature worked as well.

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While the batter rests, you'll brown some shallots in butter (yes, this is a theme of the dish) until caramelized and then bake them in the oven until soft and sweet.

Once the spaetzle batter is almost rested, put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Here's the trickiest part of the recipe (though really, you'll get the hang of it quickly): Working in small batches, pour ladlefuls of the spaetzle batter into a colander (or, if you have one, a spaetzle maker) placed over the boiling water. Use the back of the ladle to push the batter through straight into the pot, creating tiny, squiggly dumplings. These cook up quickly—the recipe says 5 to 6 minutes, or whenever the spaetzle float to the top of the pot. Mine finished after only 2 minutes.

Once they're ready, use a slotted spoon to transfer your spaetzle to an ice bath for a rapid cool. After you've cooked all your dumplings, drain and set aside, tossing with a glug or two of olive oil to prevent sticking.

That is a straight-up pan of comfort right there. Photo by Mark Weinberg

After finishing the spaetzle, the rest of the dish is a snap to throw together. (You can even prep the dumplings and shallots ahead of time and cook everything just before serving.) Sauté the mushrooms in more butter (yep), adding some minced thyme or rosemary if you feel so inclined. Set them aside and melt your final pat of butter in the pan, cooking it until toasty and brown. Toss in the spaetzle and cook until crisp and golden, then add the mushrooms, shallots, and the zest of a lemon for a bit of sparkle. (At this point, feel free to add hearty greens like kale or chard.) Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Once the whole thing is warm and toasty, top with a flurry of grated gruyere and some parsley. Pair it with a lemony green salad, a glass of wine, and a fire, and you've got winter comfort on lock.

Tip: Don't skimp on the butter when browning the spaetzle, or else they'll stick to the pan. This is not a light dish, people—go all in.

What's your ultimate winter comfort food? Or are you one of those "salad all the time" people? Share below!

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