Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Caraway-Gruyère Spaetzle Gratin with Quince-Cranberry Chutney

Because I am completely détritus blanc, I prefer my mac & chee with ketchup. Oh, don't look at me like that. Some of you are toasting marshmallows onto pork loin chops or eating barbecue sauce on spaghetti. Like that's a thing. Ketchup on mac & chee is good, and I don't even get high any more. My point, however, is that creamy-rich and twangy-sweet make excellent bedfellows. They're best mates.

Okay, I can't completely take the credit for this. My SE Portland homies will call me out if I try to anyways, so I may as well come clean. I totally stole this idea from the Victory, a cozy little Old Berlin-esque gastropub that makes a stellar spaetzle and cheese with applesauce (and has an intelligent, restrained beer and wine selection). But I knew I could do it better. It is my modus operandi, after all. After tasting my souped-up version with a sweet, spicy chutney of roasted quinces and dried cranberries, Scott admitted he'd been wondering when I was going to pwn Victory's spaetzle.

This dish is eerily reminiscent of the strozzapreti I made awhile back, but with a Kraut edge. I toasted the caraway seeds in the browning cultured butter (as it transformed flour into roux), then whisked in half & half, a splash of my homemade aqvavit and a few glugs of Spaten Optimator. I whisked and simmered, then added a little mustard powder and S&P. Handfuls of grated Gruyère (and a whole wedge of last-legs Chaubier). Stirred into some cooked spaetzle (store-bought from Edelweiss) and into a buttered casserole it goes (a sprinkle of fried onions is prudent), and a 350 oven for 15-20 minutes.

The chutney is from the quince tree in my back yard. This year it produced less than half the fruit it did last year, which is fine, since quinces are hard to use when you have 20 pounds of them. People just don't take them, and don't care about homemade quince paste with Manchego. Last year we had so many that I was draping them all over the house just for their intoxicating rose blossom-pineapple fragrance. If they could only bottle that. But I digress.

Roast the halved, cored quinces (easier with a melon baller) peel on for an hour or so, until soft (I added an apple to the mix for sweetness). Place the roasted halves in a potato ricer skin side up so when the flesh is pressed through the holes the skin stays behind for easy retrieval. This is way easier than peeling quinces, and the flesh will stay much more moist, besides. Stir in a small handful of dried cranberries (chopped), a few spoons of brown sugar, a fat pinch of Seven Spice™ and a drib of pear liqueur. A few drops of balsamic will give a little spank of acid.

We decided to go full bore and served it up with some grilled Weisswurst; bitter treviso and baby bok choy braised with bacon, chanterelles and lemons; and Bavarian-style soft pretzels with lots of crunchy salt and good brown mustard. Oh, and beer. Beer.


Anonymous said...

First! :) Holy shit that looks awesome. Quinces are plentiful right now---they really do smell lovely. And Heather? I totally appreciate the quince and manchego combo. Try it with long cured sheep cheese sometime--also freaking awesome.

Manggy said...

Wow, if there's ever a post to prove that you're NOT white trash, this is it. I was actually waiting for when you'd mention the ketchup, heh heh :) Although I live in a ketchupy household, I still can't imagine it with mac and chee. If ever I get a hold of those Kraft instant ones (who's detritus blanc now, huh?), I'll report back to you ;)
Anyway, I gotta try making spaetzle already. Your pic is killing me. I've got a chinese colander with jumbo pencil-sized-diameter holes that I think will work.

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

Christ! What a combination! I love your version of Mac and chee and I also agree that quinces are not really appreciated. (yum with manchego)....Spetzle is one of my favourite noodles too! Phew!

Anonymous said...

You didn't actually _grill_ the Weißwurst, did you? ;)

The Quince Chutney looks great nevertheless and your Kässpätzle are just mouthwatering. When you're tired of the storebought Spätzle, try make your own sometime, it's really easy, having a Spätzlehobel or Spätzlepresse
My grandma just uses a cutting board. ;)

Peter M said...'ve come up with a wonderful way to call oneself "white trash"...I'm stealing it!

Thanks for the BBQ sauce shout-out and props for the spaetzle, I love caraway and think it's under-rated.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Interesting that Evi says making spatzle is easy - the only times I have tried it has been fucking difficult and a total disaster. But then, I was trying to do it like grossmami off the board.

This looks fabulous. I will remember the chutney for next year's chaenomeles crop!

Laura Paterson said...

detritus blanc, chortle!

Cheesy spatzel is amazing. With fried onions and ketchup of course...

peter said...

I'd go with "poubelle blanche" 'cause it sounds classier and feminine. You know, like you.

I have all these fancy cheeses left over from the party, and you'll never guess what I'm thinking of making tonight...

glamah16 said...

CS is the weirdest German as he doesnt like Caraway seeds. I love them however and this is an amazing meal. You are so lucky yot have that quince tree.I dont know why you call your self white trash . You see pretty high faulatin with your culinary and spirits knowledge.CS puts ketchup on everyhting, and it drives me insane.

Syd said...

Oh God, Heather. That first paragraph was brutal.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

That's an awesome twist on mac & cheese, even if ketchup might be involved ;-) I really need to try this one out (and its incentive for me to try working with quince again--I see so many sweet applications, but not many savory).

Heather said...

Nikki - I think only Spain and Argentina really appreciate the quince/Manchego thing. I'll keep my eye out for that long-cured sheep.

Mark - It's totally good, just try it sometime! I've tried making my own spaetzle once or twice, and it seemed like a lot of work. Even for me.

Petah - I love those chewy little dumplings! They really hold up to a thick sauce well.

Evi - I used my grill pan, since it's raining sideways right now. ;) I have only tried using a colander, since I tend to not want more clutter. One day maybe I'll be as good as an oma and use a cutting board, too.

Peter the Greek - Your BBQ spaghetti has always stood out in my mind. :)

Alicia - Me too, but some people think baking perfect loaves of bread is easy, too. :)

Kittie - Fried onions and ketchup are a winning combination, as far as I'm concerned.

Jube - Aww, how sweet. I'll use that. The best part of a party is leftover cheese nubs. I'd never buy all that cheese just to make Mac And, but I love using retardedly good cheese in a bechamel.

Courtney - My MiL doesn't either, I don't think. I tried doing this once before (spaetzle with browned butter and caraway), and she said it was "different". :D

Syd - Well, it's good! I put ketchup on scrambled eggs, too. IT'S THE WAY GOD INTENDED.

'Ey Mikey - Savory is where it's at. All that tartness shouldn't go to waste getting sugared up into cake! This chutney is great with lamb, too, or a pork loin chop.

Mosby said...

How can you possibly type "homemade aqvavit" and then not provide a recipe? Aren't there rules about this? fercrissake

Anonymous said...

If you need a place to send some quinces and/or quince paste . . .

YarnTraveler said...

Oh man have I been jonesing for some tasty spaetzle! Just before we left, we made several trips to Rumpspankers to get our fill of the Spaetzle Love, but I definitely think yours would top theirs!

I'm also really sad I'm not around to snag the quinces! After the few I got from you last year, I was really looking forward to making quince jelly. Put me down for dibs on a sh*t-ton (or a metric sh*t-tonne, per the Brits) next year.

Maggie said...

I need this, like, tonight.

And I didn't think mac and cheese could get any better.

Love this: "a sprinkle of fried onions is prudent"—isn't it always?

Brooke said...

I have to know how you make your own Aquavit. Blog it. Need the recipe. My squarehead craves firewater.

Oh, I put ketchup (or Tabasco, depending on my mood) on my mac n cheese too. It's not weird.

Marilyn said...

Oh, my. You had me at caraway-gruyere.

Thistlemoon said...

Oh man I haven't had spatzle in forever and this looks so freaking goo! Way to go on the whole spread! Yum!

michael, claudia and sierra said...

damn girl

i leave you alone for a week or so and now i ahve to catch up and the first thing you do is throw this at me.


i want this so much. so very very much. there are no words...

Darius T. Williams said...

So this looks great - like, really!

Didn't I see this pic on tastespotting?

Either way - this makes me happy!


Heather said...

Jess - It's just vodka infused with caraway, coriander, star anise, fennel, cinnamon, juniper and black pepper. I don't have a distillery or anything. :)

Lisa - I really need to start canning this stuff.

Stacy - Last year you were the only one to take me up on the offer! I should check out that Rumpspanker place.

Maggie - Yeah, it pretty much is. I almost sprinkled some on my pasta tonight, too.

Brookie! - Thank you. I knew I wasn't the only one! Why the hell are people so shy about it?

Marilyn - Well hello, yourself. :)

Jenn - It really hit the spot, I must admit. The best part? You guessed it: leftovers!

Claudia - You say that about all of my mac & chee iterations. ;)

Darius - Damn skippy you did! I actually got a decent shot of it. Or ten. :)

Anonymous said...

all i can say is...


The Spiteful Chef said...

Well Heather, I've noticed that many of the people who read my blog also read yours, so I've been kind of net-stalking you for a while. This spatzle took me up a level from just lurking in the bushes outside your blog with binoculars and a cup of coffee, to ringing your doorbell and pretending to be the delivery man. I love the cheese on it. I feel bad that I've never done that before.

Anonymous said...

Because you provided me with the marshmallow crusted pork chop recipie I will share my spaetzle cooking tip of sliding it off of the back of a clipboard with you. Use a straight spatula and scrape the goo off into the boiling water. Your spaetle dish looks awesome. Try a quince tarte tatin. Quince tree, and a twisted sense of humor. Too bad were both married.

LutheranChik said...

I've tried to explain to my partner the beauty of my late mother's cheesy tuna-noodle squares topped with ketchup dollops; she just doesn't get it.

I've only had quinces once before, when I simply halved them and baked them with some spices and've inspired me to try them again.

Brooke said...

I think most people adorn their Kraft Mac n cheese with ketchup. They just don't admit it. Closet ketchupers, all of them.

Anonymous said...

What I actually meant when I asked if you grilled the Weißwurst was.. grilling a Weißwurst is blasphemy! (Same goes for panfrying!) ;)

The only treatment allowed is slow simmering in hot, not boiling, water! Generations of Bavarians can't be wrong! ;)

On the other hand.. Your Weißwurst doesn't even have a skin. Where's the fun in that? ;)

Heather said...

Amy - This is nothing compared to your lovely long brat. :)

Kristie - Come on in, sugar.

ChefKPH - Too bad for you, maybe. >_<

LutheranChik - Ketchup on tuna casserole? Now that's just crazy. :P

Brooke - We're here! We're ketchup eaters! Get used to it!

Evi - It does too have a skin! I split the sausage to "grill" it, so you can't see it. What are you, the Weißwurst police? :D

Anonymous said...

Grilled Weißwurst just sounds really strange to my ears. ;)
Reeeeeeally really strange. But you're probably not the only one who likes it. Yet, when it comes to Weißwurst, I'm a really incurable traditionalist. I'll try to restrain myself from too missonary comments in the future. ;)

Anonymous said...

My goodness... The stuff that comes out of your kitchen is amazing.

Brittany said...

Personally, I'ma tabasco on mac n chee type of gal. Little trick my sister taught me.
And quince paste w/ manchego is orgasmic. People who don't get that are fucking stoopid.