Pork, Spätzle and Sauerkraut

Pork, Spätzle and Sauerkraut

Once again the business has taken its toll on blog productivity but rest assured, I’ve not gone hungry. For some reason, of late, German food has been featuring fairly highly; first a (somewhat hazy) trip to Hamburg, then at various street food stalls and more recently my favourite local gastropub did an excellent Oktoberfest menu.

So, ever one to jump on the bandwagon and soak up inspiration shamelessly I decided to do something myself.

Being neither sweet-toothed, nor a particularly experienced baker I gave the Black Forest Gateau a wide birth, much to the dismay of Mrs Frankly.

It was only after a bit of Googling and Gastronomique thumbing, I came across Spätzle:  little irregular looking pieces of egg noodle, or mini dumplings, also associated with a number of countries neighbouring Germany. Whilst I’d heard of it, I’d never tried it and so that was that.

I suppose what I actually made was a kind of Käsespätzle as this did contain some cheese for a bit a lift. I must admit, there seem to be a few variations in size and shape – you can buy small grater/mandolin hybrid type devices to make small little pieces, but Wolfgang Puck recommended pushing the mixture through a large holed colander and that was good enough for me.

I actually used the larger disk that came with my a potato ricer. It seemed to do the trick nicely, but in hindsight I think the batter was maybe very slightly too wet (I adjusted the amount in the recipe below). Still, It was fun to do even if I didn’t exactly turn out to be to most photogenic of dishes. Tasty too.

Admittedly, and a little predictably, I served it with some griddled pork chops and some warmed, ‘tweaked’ Sauerkraut, but it worked well. I simply marinaded the pork in garlic, salt and thyme first. Think I’ll try some Saurbraten next time or maybe a Goulash which seems to be a classic partner.

Perfect with a nice cold beer though it was a Budweiser Budvar, which is Czech, but it’s not too far away I suppose. Prost!

Serves 2 with leftovers…

For the Spätzle:

  • 125g/1 cup plain (all purpose flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter melted, but about blood temperature
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 2 large pinches of salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

For the pork:

  • 2 good quality pork chops
  • Olive oil
  • Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Garlic

For the Sauerkraut:

  • 6 heaped tbsp Sauerkraut
  • A little mace
  • Small pinch of nutmeg
  • 75g bacon lardons, finely diced.
  • Salt and a little sugar to taste

For the Spätzle, mix the eggs, melted butter, cheese and milk in a jug and mix well. Tip the flour into a mixer, season and combine with the egg mixture using the paddle attachment for a minute on the lowest setting.

The resulting batter is pretty thick. Cover and leave in the fridge for an hour.

Whilst doing so, on a plate, mix a good ‘lug’ of olive oil with salt, a tbsp of fresh thyme leaves and a large clove of garlic (or two smaller ones), coarsely chopped. Flatten the chops slightly with a meat tenderiser and lay in the marinade for at least an hour, turning halfway through.

Garlic thyme and sea salt

Keep the pork out of the fridge so as to get to room temperature, which is better for cooking when you get to it.

In a small pan, fry the bacon lardons, there should be enough oil in them. Add the Sauerkraut, a dash of water, the spices and seasoning. Taste and adjust. Heat through and put a lid on the pan to keep warm.

Turn the oven on at 160°C/320°F

To make the Spätzle, get the kettle on to boil some water and add to a large pan. Salt, and bring to a rapid boil, as you would pasta.

Take the cold batter and load up the potato ricer!

Spatzle with potato ricerOver the pan, squeeze a little of the mixture out and with the swift stroke of a a knife, cut them off so they fall into the water. Or the might drop of under their own weight.

Anyone remember the Playdough Mop-Top Hair Shop?

Anyone remember the Pla-Do Mop Top Hair Shop? 

Do this for all the mixture and when they start to rise, much like gnocchi, it’s done. So, a couple of minutes should do it.

Immediately drain and plunge into cold water.

Scrape the large pieces of garlic from the pork, or they’ll burn, but keep them for later. Heat the griddle until smoking hot and griddle one side until you get nice bar marks in two directions.

Griddled pork chop

Turn over and transfer to the oven to finish off for a few minutes. Take care not to over do it, use a thermometer if you have one –  65°C/150°F, should see you right. Leave to rest in a warm place.

Pork chops

Dry the Spätzle using kitchen paper and fry in the remaining garlic/herb marinade with a little butter until coloured. Serve it all up.

Sautéed Spätzle

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Gammon, Mushrooms and Peas on toast.

Gammon, mushrooms and peas on toast

Time sure flies hey? Plenty going on for us recently in and out of the Frankly household. We’ve been trying some great food and so culinary creativity, if ever there was any, has taken a bit of a back seat over the last few weeks.

This dish is unashamedly inspired (again) by a local gastropub and is another of those ‘on toast’ dishes. I offer no apologies for this, it’s probably one of the quickest and healthiest ways of introducing ‘crispy carbs’ and it’s delicious when griddled as I have here.

The gammon ham was actually from last Christmas and never got cooked, frozen and sat waiting patiently. In case I decided to take up curling or needed ammo for a trebuchet presumably. After defrosting I slow cooked this, initially in foil, for about four hours and it was meltingly good. Now, how to use up 2.5kg of smoked gammon….

So I came up with the following for a starters (but not a starter). I love this sort of thing – a bit rustic, quite simple and bags of flavour. Worth a try I’d say.

  • 2 slices of good quality bread
  • A little olive oil and a clove of garlic to rub
  • Cut 2 thin and two thick slices of gammon ham.
  • 2 tbsp crème fraiche
  • 1 heaped tsp coarse/wholegrain mustard
  • Black pepper
  • 150-200g chestnut (or similar) mushrooms, quartered or halved depending on size
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 little oil and a knob of butter
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  •  About 100g peas, frozen, unless you can get them really fresh
  •  Pea-shoots to finish

Prepare the ingredients first. Chop the thick gammon slices into dice sized pieces, slice the bread, quarter (or half) the mushrooms and finely chop the garlic and parsley.

In a small lidded pan, blanch the peas in a small lidded pan for a few minutes, turn off the heat and leave whilst you finish the rest.

Fry the gammon cubes in a little oil in a small skillet until coloured. Reduce the heat, stir in the creme fraiche and mustard and heat through. Season with pepper only. Transfer to a bowl, cover and keep warm in the oven. Put the two thin slices of gammon in there too to warm.

gammon & creme fraiche

Begin to heat a griddle pan on at this point, as it’s got to be hot.

Wipe clean the skillet and heat the oil and butter for the mushrooms. Fry the mushrooms with the garlic for a few minutes until softened but not over-done. Season and stir in the parsley then set aside to keep warm.

Fried mushrooms

Drain the peas and crush them using a masher to break them up, season with a little salt and butter if you like. Cover the pan with the lid and set aside in the oven, again, to keep warm.

Rub the bread with the garlic clove and brush with oil on both sides. Sear each side on the griddle until nice charred bar marks appear.

Griddled bread

Layer the ingredients up as you prefer and top with the pea-shoots. Serve with some good piccalilli.

Gammon, mushrooms and peas on toast