Thursday, March 26, 2009

Opa makes dinner

One of my kids' favourite meals that Oma used to make was chicken goulash. It was made in a typical European way, except Henny made it with a far greater portion of sauce than I think was usual. She did this so the kids could mix the whole thing into the mashed potatoes that she always served with the goulash. They loved it.

Karl surprised us last night when he came over for dinner. He brought with him a somewhat streamlined version of Oma’s goulash and...Opa had one more surprise: spatzle. I love spatzle and think it is perfect with goulash so I offered up my spatzle maker...

Opa was not impressed: he scoffed and said something that indicated he believed my spatzle maker to be a pile of *#%@ and proceeded to make us hand-thrown spatzle. He used a soup spoon, dipped it in cold water to prevent the spatzle from sticking to it, scooped up some dough and dropped the balls into the boiling water.

After dinner I asked him for the recipe. He again scoffed and said it was simple. When I pressed for measurements, he was even more vague. I figure he is either plagued by bad memory or is keeping his spatzle recipe a closely-guarded secret. So here is my version of Opa's spatzle.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk

Stir together the flour and salt. Combine eggs and milk; stir into the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the spatzle maker and slide the cutting tool back and forth over a large pot (with a diameter of at least 20 cm or 8 inches) of boiling, salted water.

Take care to let the extruded pieces of dough fall into the slightly bubbling water and let them cook for approximately 2-3 minutes. Generally, spatzle swimming on the surface are sufficiently cooked and may be gathered with a large slotted spoon, drained and placed into a serving dish. Karl’s larger spatzle took about 8 minutes to cook.

Oma’s Chicken Goulash

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
3 tbsp flour (she used potato flour to make this gluten free)
1 1/3 cups chicken stock or more if needed
1/4 cup tomato paste

Cut chicken into 3/4-inch chunks. In Dutch oven, heat half of the oil over medium-high heat; fry chicken, in batches, until browned outside and no longer pink inside, about 4 minutes. Remove to bowl.

Add remaining oil to pan. Add onion, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in stock and tomato paste; cook, stirring often, until thickened enough to coat back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan. Stir until heated through.

Serve with mashed potatoes or spatzle.

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