Region: South-West Germany, State of Baden Württemberg, Swabia
Can you whip up something delicious with the 3 main ingredients being lentils, Spaetzle, and Frankfurter Sausages?
Ask any Houswife from the southwestern German Region of Swabia and they will say: Sure, it is one of our classics!
Regional cooking in Swabia is much more down to earth and simpler when compared to the other areas of Germany. In traditional Swabian Cuisine one still sees the influences of times of hardship much more than elsewhere in Germany.
Mean people say: The Swabian will eat anything as long as it comes with enough gravy. Well, there may be some truth to it, if one considers, that the signature dish of Swabia, the Speatzle, really need lots of sauce.
This dish is a perfect winter meal. Quick and easy to prepare, very filling and the lentil stew makes a perfect left over dish. Give it a try.
You will need:
Serves: 4 Difficulty: Easy Preparation time: 75 mins.
- 500g (1 lbs) Fast Cooking Lentils (e.g Pardina Lentils)
- 3 Medium Carrots, diced
- 1 Large Onion,
- ½ Leek
- ½ small Celery Root
- 1 Bunch Fresh Lovage Herbs (use 1.2 TBS dried if you cannot get fresh),
- 1 TBS Clarified Butter
- 5 Cloves
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 5 Juniper Berries
- 1 -2 TBS fresh Marjoram (use dried if you cannot get fresh),
- Salt, Pepper, 2 Pinches of Sugar
- 800ml (28 fl oz) Unsalted Liquid Vegetable Broth in a Glass
- 400 ml (14 fl oz) Liquid Beef Broth in a Glass
- 5-10 TBS Quality White Wine Vinegar
- 150g (5.3 oz) Bacon Bits
- 2 TBS Butter,
- 2 TBS Flour,
- 8 Quality Frankfurter Sausages (get organic is you can)
- 1 Paper Tea Filter
- 1 Bunch of Parsley, finely chopped (save a few leaves for decoration)
- A decision if you want to make the Spaetzle yourself or if you want to use off the shelf product in which case you will need:
- 200g (7 oz) Quality Brand ready to use Spaetzle.
If you want to make the Spaetzle yourself you will need:
- 300g(10.6 oz) Flour
- 4 Eggs
- 2 Pinches of Salt
- ½ TS Freshly Ground Nutmeg
- 6 TBS Sparkling Mineral Water
Here is how it is done:
Dice 3 medium carrots, 1 large onion, ½ leek, ½ small celery root, and finely chop lovage herbs, marjoram, and parsley.
Place 5 cloves, 1 bay leaf and 5 juniper berries in a large paper tea filter, close it with a knot.
Place bacon in a cold large cooking pot and bring to high heat. Let the bacon roast for a few minutes until it begins to brown. Remove from pot and set aside. Add 1 TBS of clarified butter and roast the vegetables for 4 minutes.
Add 500g lentils and 800 ml unsalted vegetable broth. Add water if needed. Lentils should be covered with water. Toss in the tea filter with herbs. Add 1 TBS Majoran and lovage. Bring to a boil and once boiling reduce heat to a simmer. DO NOT ADD SALT YET!
Let cook according to the lentil packaging instructions. With the product I used it took 45 minutes.
If you want to make the Spaetzle yourself prepare the dough while the lentils are simmering away:
Combine 300g (10.6 oz) flour, 4 whole eggs, 2 pinches of salt, ½ TS freshly ground nutmeg, and 6 TBS Sparkling Mineral Water in a bowl and blend using your favorite mixer for 5 minutes. Use more water if the dough is too dry.
If you ever wondered what the wooden cooking spoon with the hole in the center is for…; well, it is made for beating Spaetzle dough.
What follows is what scares people about making Spaetzle: It is beating the dough; a bit of a work out. You need to beat air into the dough. With a wooden cooking spoon, beat the Spaetzle dough for 5 minutes or until you see air bubbles. I use my hands for doing this; messy, but less strenuous. Let the dough rest for a while.
In the meantime, check your lentils. Add more water if needed, they should remain covered.
In a small sauce pan, melt 2 TBS of Butter. Once melted and hot, add 2 TBS of flour and whisk well, While frequently whisking let the flour turn light to medium brown until you begin to smell roasting aromas. You want a cappuccino type of brown, not chocolate dark. Once browned, Remove from heat and add ½ cup of liquid beef broth. Return to heat and stir vigorously. It will turn into a thick paste. Remove from heat and add another ½ cup of broth and stir vigorously. Repeat this process of adding broth, heating and stirring until you have liquid but thick gravy. Give it a short bubble on heat then set aside.
Once lentils are done, pour in 1 cup of the gravy, season with a generous amount of salt. Season with Pepper, more marjoram if need and 5 – 10 TBS of high quality white wine vinegar (Tip: use one with a well balanced acidity) and 2 pinches of sugar. Keep warm.
In a large cooking pot bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a silent simmer. Add 8 Frankfurter Sausages and let them soak in the hot but not boiling water for 10 minutes.
In another large pot bring salted water to a boil.
Place dough onto a wet wooden board, and using a long knife, spread it thin on the board, keep it wet using the boiling salt water and then scrape it into mildly boiling water. If it gets sticky, wet with water from the pot.
Cook for a few minutes until Spaetzle start to float.
I found a video that shows how to do make Spaetzle the original way. It is in German, but you will get the main points outlined above. Note how he beats the heck out of the dough. Must be a good way of relieving tension.
Again, as mentioned above, if you have access to good quality off the shelf spaetzle, go ahead and use them. In fact, any type of pasta will work fine.
Serve everything in a large and preheated soup dish. Decorate with some parsley.
A cold beer is a good companion.