I’ve been wanting to make spaetzle for a while. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had it before; I certainly have no recollection of ever eating it. But I’ve always liked the sound of it. It sounded like a dish you could be really proud of: hand-crafting those cute little twisty pasta shapes seemed to be a time-consuming job, but one that yielded wonderful results.

And I was right. It was time-consuming.

I have no problems spending copious amounts of time in the kitchen. And I don’t mind it when recipes don’t include an estimated prepping and cooking time, because I never manage to stay within such time frames. Knowing this, I probably should have accounted for a decent prep time for the forming of the spaetzle instead of thinking I could manage to do it half an hour before we wanted to eat.

I made this dish on New Year’s Eve to go along with Dorie’s mussels and chorizo dish (which the Doristas made last February). I knew the mussels would cook up fast, and the pre-formed and par-boiled spaetzle seemed like they would as well, and I liked the idea of a quick but delicious meal for the last night of the year.

So, I got everything ready to go for the spaetzle, which had a wonderful abundance of herbs thrown into it. The dough came together quickly and easily. No reason why it shouldn’t – it was just flour, eggs, and milk. It formed a thick, sticky dough, and it was at that point that I began to worry a little. It was too thick. I planned to use a slotted ladle as my spaetzle maker, but I had to hold it over the boiling water, let the heat loosen up the dough, and use all the force I could muster to push it through the holes, which were not very big but not very small either. One spoonful took forever. By the end of it, my wrists were aching, particularly the one holding the ladle. I had Geordie come over and help me, and he had a bear of a time with it too. We did two more spoonfuls, at which point about twenty minutes had passed and we had barely gotten through a quarter of the dough. We decided that what we had would have to be enough, because neither of us wanted to deal with it anymore.

So, I put aside the dough, pulled what spaetzle remained out of the boiling water, and began working on the mussels. That went fairly quickly, and then it was on to preparing the mushrooms that the spaetzle would be added to. Once they were cooked down and ready to go, the spaetzle went in. Soon after that, the mussels went into their own pot of tomatoes and chorizo.

The par-cooked spaeztle. Not nearly enough of it, but it was all we were willing to do that night.

The par-cooked spaeztle. Not nearly enough of it, but it was all we were willing to do that night.

After the mushrooms were cooked, I added the spaetzle and cooked it a bit. Then in went some vegetable broth, which got absorbed into the spaeztle while the mussels cooked.

After the mushrooms were cooked, I added the spaetzle and cooked it a bit. Then in went some vegetable broth, which got absorbed into the spaeztle while the mussels cooked.

Mussels cooked in a broth of tomatoes and chorizo.

Mussels cooked in a broth of tomatoes and chorizo.

The cooked mushrooms and spaeztle. We had way more mushrooms than spaeztle, but that was okay. Mushroom fiend that I am, I had no complaints.

The cooked mushrooms and spaeztle. We had way more mushrooms than spaeztle, but that was okay. Mushroom fiend that I am, I had no complaints.

The whole she-bang: mussels with their broth, mushrooms, and spaetzle. A lovely way to end the year.

The whole she-bang: mussels with their broth, mushrooms, and spaetzle. A lovely way to end the year.

For all the effort that went into the spaeztle, it was a tasty dish. The little dumplings absorbed some great flavor from the mushrooms and the vegetable broth, and they lent a nice mellowness to the spiciness of the chorizo. The mussels were terrific, and they are fast becoming my favorite shellfish (sorry, lobster!), given that they are so easy and so delicious. And so versatile! All in all, we enjoyed it, and it made for a cozy New Year’s Eve.

But, while the spaeztle was tasty and made a good meal better, I wouldn’t make it again unless I had a tool that made it much, much easier. I liked it, and I’d definitely eat it again, but I did not enjoy making it. I know there are spaeztle makers out there, so maybe that’s something I’ll want to look into getting someday. For now, I’ll consider this a learning experience. Time management is still something I’m working on when it comes to food prep.

Check out how the spaetzle worked for the other Doristas at this week’s link; they made some very pretty little dumplings! Happy cooking!

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