Pilz Knodel (Mushroom Spatzle)
From Mark Southon’s mum (Chef & TV personality)
I grew up in England and my earliest memories are of sitting on the worktop, watching and tasting everything my German mother cooked. We frequently went to Germany to visit relatives, when I would learn from my grandmother also. I still visit Germany as often as I can, always with a list of dishes that I have to eat while I’m there, and Maultaschen, Kartoffelsalat, and Pilz Knödel are permanent fixtures. I’m always on a quest to recreate these dishes; simple rich maultaschen dumplings swimming in beef broth, the perfect kartoffelsalat, and the staple of Stuttgart, spätzle, which is so beloved it has its own festival in the Alps.
Time – 40 minutes, plus 30 minutes inactive
For the spätzle:
Pinch of salt
60g dried cep (also called porcini) mushrooms
1 tsp oil
100g smoked back bacon, diced
1 tsp caraway seeds
Knob of butter
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped chives.
Prepare the spätzle:
Place flour and salt into a large bowl. Beat in eggs one by one until you have smooth, thick, stretchy dough. The consistency should be similar to a choux pastry. Add a splash of water if needed.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a gentle boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Spread dough thinly onto a chopping board and hold one short edge of the board, with the other short edge just over the edge of the saucepan. Dip a table knife into the hot water, then use the knife to slice and roll thin slivers of dough along the board and into the boiling water. Wet your knife frequently to prevent the dough sticking. Continue until there is a thin layer of spätzle noodles in the saucepan. (If you feel unsure of the technique there are videos online to show you how it’s done; you can also buy a spätzle machine, which looks similar to a hand held mandolin, which you feed the dough through to form the spätzle.)
Cook the spätzle in the boiling water until they bob on the surface and are cooked through. They should be tender with some bite, similar to al dente pasta. Remove cooked spätzle with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water to refresh, then transfer to a bowl and set aside. Repeat spätzle forming and cooking with the remaining dough.
Place mushrooms in a bowl and pour in boiling water to cover by 2cm. Leave to soak for 20–30 minutes until rehydrated, then roughly chop mushrooms and strain soaking liquid through a fine mesh sieve.
Heat oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add bacon and fry, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Stir in caraway seeds and cook with bacon for 30 seconds. Stir in spätzle and toss continuously until warmed through. Add mushrooms and cook, tossing, for a further minute. Add butter and a splash of strained mushroom liquid and mix well to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Serve hot, garnished with chives.
Spätzle noodles can be cooked, cooled, and drained in advance, and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day. Use to make this pilz knödel recipe, fry simply in butter before serving, or serve with any dish in place of mashed potatoes.
Recipe © Mark Southon.
Reproduced from My Mother’s Kitchen, published by Potton & Burton, available nationwide