- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 2004

When you yearn for macaroni and cheese (and don’t we all crave it about now?) it could be nostalgia or maybe the ingredients that set your appetite in motion.

If it’s nostalgia, you’ll want to replicate the dish your mom made. Be sure you remember correctly, or you will end up with a tarted-up version of macaroni and cheese and not your special dish.

If, instead, it’s the combination of stomach-filling starch and rich cream and cheese you’re after, any number of recipes, and not just for macaroni and cheese, will fit the bill.

My take on this is spaetzle, which is a cross between a noodle and a dumpling but twice as cushioning to my psyche as either. You can buy spaetzle in German or gourmet food stores, but this isn’t a difficult recipe, and it tastes much fresher if made from scratch.

Choosing the accompaniment is the only challenge. The dish you serve with spaetzle should be rich and creamy so the noodles soak up the sauce.

The following shortcut variation of chicken paprikash is an excellent partner. If you’d like to revert to childhood memories, make a pot of spaetzle, then stir in cream, butter and shredded cheddar cheese.

Chicken with parmesan spaetzle

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 small chicken breast halves, on bone and with skin attached

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1 shallot, minced

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 small red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced

½ teaspoon sweet paprika

Dash cayenne pepper

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup sour cream (reduced-fat sour cream is fine)

Parmesan spaetzle (recipe follows)

Heat oil in a skillet. Dust chicken with flour and season with salt and pepper to taste, reserving leftover flour. Brown chicken, skin side down, for 5 minutes. Remove chicken. Add garlic, shallot, mushrooms and bell pepper to skillet. Saute 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cayenne.

Sprinkle with leftover flour; stir to form a paste.

Pour in chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits in skillet. Simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly, or until sauce thickens slightly. Return chicken to skillet. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Spoon sour cream into a bowl. Spoon about 1/4 cup cooking liquid into sour cream to heat. Stir sour cream mixture back into skillet. Heat over low heat for 1 minute. Do not boil. Serve over Parmesan spaetzle. Makes 2 servings.

PARMESAN SPAETZLE:

3/4 cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter

Combine flour, salt, pepper and cheese on a plate. Make a space in the center.

Add egg, egg yolk and milk to the center. Beat gently to mix. Gradually stir in flour mixture to form a batter.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Dip a sharp knife into the water. S

lice off small pieces of batter with the wet knife, a few pieces at a time, and slide into the boiling water. When the cooked spaetzle floats to the surface, remove and drain.

Place in a bowl with butter, and toss to mix.

Continue with remaining batter. Do not crowd.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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