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Does passing spaetzle dough through a cheese grater really work?

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I've seen many recipes suggest this but it seems dubious to me. Has anyone actually tried it and, if so, does anyone have any tips and/or a recipe for a dough that works particularly well for this technique? I'm not particularly loyal to any particular recipe, I just want spaetzle for my chicken paprikas tomorrow and I don't have a spaetzle grater. (and, no, I can't get one where I am. I abroad, in a country where people look at you blankly if you say "spaetzle.")

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  1. You can use a pastry bag or a plastic food bag to make it. With the plastic, just cut off one corner and then squeeze like you would with a pastry bag.

    2 Replies
    1. re: escondido123

      Hmmm...could you elaborate on this? Isn't it very slow? (As in, some of it is fully cooked while you're still squeezing more? This is a problem I've had with the cut-off-little-pieces-with-the-edge-of-a-spoon technique.) What recipe do you use for that? I would want to make sure it is the right consistency--too stiff seems like it could lead to problems.

      1. re: Lady_Tenar

        I haven't made it in years, but when I did I slowly squeezed it out of the corner of the bag while my husband made quick cuts. Some likely were overdone but we didn't find them objectionable.

    2. I have used my box grater and a little half-moon shaped grease drainer gadget to make spatzle - both work, although the box grater is a little messy. I just scoop the dough/batter onto the holey surface and allow it to drip through, then use a knife to scrape the spaetzle into the water as they drip.

      1. You know how most stock pots come with steamers and colanders? These work best for making spaetzle, in my opinion, and I prefer the steamer in-set over the colander because it is shallower and thus easier to maneuver. Naturally, it works better with in-sets that have larger holes, but you just hold the steamer basket over the boiling water, scoop out dough with a handheld spatula, and press it through the holes. Simple.

        I don't like the shape the cheese grater gives them, and this way is much easier in my opinion than trying to get the dough to pass evenly through the grater into the water. Just my two cents (which is about all it's worth).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Fiorentino

          I use this method with great results!!!

        2. You could also try this method - I think this woman has done this a few times before! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Y6Ga9...

          8 Replies
          1. re: biondanonima

            While I don't have nearly her technique, that's how my hungarian former mother-in-law taught me to make it- by scraping off a wooden board. I like the hot water dunking part, that's a pretty nifty trick.

            1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

              So does anyone have a recipe for the dough/batter that works best with this method? I'm used to using a stiffer dough but what this woman is using seems much stickier.

              1. re: Lady_Tenar

                Her batter appears to have the same consistency as what I get following an old Joy of cooking recipe - 1 1/2c flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 c water.

                But since eggs are a large part of the liquid their exact size will affect batter stiffness. Also affecting stiffness will be how you stir it (longer will develop some gluten) and if you let it sit (to hydrate and let the gluten relax). So at some level you have to go by your own feel and judgement, and just follow a recipe exactly.

            2. re: biondanonima

              isn't that a beautiful thing to watch??!

              1. re: chez cherie

                That was precisely my thought! That is sheer beauty. I do a method where, using a very fine edged metal bowl, I slowly shave them off of the edge into the hot water. My Oma always did it this way, and she did it so much that they were pretty uniform. Mine tend to come in an array of sizes and shapes, but they are all equally delicious.

              2. re: biondanonima

                man - that beats the pants off of squishing the dough through a bunch of holes!

                1. re: biondanonima

                  wow -- the martin yan of spaetzle!

                  1. re: biondanonima

                    I know enough German to know that several times she says something is "very important" but not enough to know what it is!

                    I think I'll go with the steamer insert method (just saw video of Emeril doing it).

                  2. I used a fat knitting needle (screwdriver would work) to punch holes on one half of a styrofoam tray that held meat from the supermarket. I dump the batter on the solid side and use a bench scraper or rubber spatula to trowel it over the holes. This was my refinement of another Hound's suggestion to use a disposable pie pan - I found the foil heated too fast and started to cook the batter before it could pass through the holes. It also became too hot to hold without a potholder. The styrofoam is not a problem in either respect. I wash it and have used it many, many times.

                    1. That's what initially used. A flat grater with large holes (about 1/4") is best. I didn't change the batter. While I have used a spaetzle maker, my preferred tool is a perforated 'grill plate', one sold for grilling vegetables. It has the same size holes as the commercial maker. I just use a spoon or rubber spatula to rub the dough back and forth.

                      Notice that I wrote both batter and dough. If it is wetter it passes through the holes easier, and makes more delicate spaetzle. A stiffer batter is harder to push through, but gives a more toothsome result. I lean toward the latter, but have made both.

                      1. You can use just about anything with holes in it to make spaetzle, as long as you can get the batter/dough (depending on how you prepare the mixture) and can cut them to length by some means. A colander, cheese grater, potato ricer will all work. My grandmother used a Spätlebrett (the method shown in the youtube video) and I used a box grater for a long time but recently moved on to use a spaetzle maker. The Spätlebrett, IMO, actually works the best because it allows for a thinner cut which makes the spaetezle lighter in texture.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: todao

                          I use my potato ricer, and it works really well.

                          1. re: todao

                            I agree -- Slotted spoon, box grater, pie pan with holes punched in it....if it's got holes in it, you can use it.

                          2. A regular colander will work better, if you have one. Bigger holes mean less annoyance. A spaetzle maker is one of the few dedicated purpose items I will defend but if it isn't available, it isn't. The freeze well too.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: JudiAU

                              Yep...I use my colander too - set over the pan of water.

                            2. I use my food mill with the coarse disk. It's easy. Just turn it slowly and the batter slips through the holes at just the right length because the press shears it off on each pass and pushes a new portion of dough onto the disk on the next pass. Try it!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: allegirl

                                This method is shear genius and foolproof.