7 Days of the Food Network: Day 5, Michael Symon

April 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

J:  I will admit this with no shame: I have a ridiculous foodie-crush on Iron Chef Michael Symon.  He’s an incredible chef, always creative with the dishes he manages to pull out on ICA, and as Erik remarked at one point, it’s amazing how delicate he is with his plating considering that he looks like such a tough guy.  It always looks like he’s having so much fun with his cooking!  Also, it doesn’t hurt that the guy is kind of gorgeous.

…anyway, in picking out chefs to include here, it was a given that Michael Symon would be among them.  I chose to do his spaetzle with smoked ham and poached celery hearts, because spaetzle was a dish I had a lot growing up.  My parents are both of German heritage and so a lot of the food I had as a child was very much in the German/Austrian tradition: very hearty, meat-and-potatoes (and chocolate!), etc.  Because of some combination of poor planning and laziness, I ended up with monster spaetzle instead of the normal, more delicate noodle-dumplings you usually see, but they still tasted awesome.  I also substituted chorizo for the smoked ham, because I had leftovers from this dish, but it was honestly a little overpowering in this context, so I’d probably recommend sticking with smoked ham or using some other less-intense meat.

homemade spaetzle!

Michael Symon’s Spaetzle with Smoked Ham and Poached Celery Hearts
(recipe found here; I halved it and made a few substitutions)
For the spaetzle and smoked ham (chorizo, in my case):
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c milk
1/2 tbsp butter
8 oz smoked ham (I used chorizo; would recommend using ham or another not-overpowering meat)
For the poached celery hearts:
3 celery hearts, cut into pieces
1 tbsp butter
1/2 c white wine (I used vermouth; it worked fine!)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Start off by making your spaetzle dough.  You should also set a large pot of salted water heating up so it’ll be boiling by the time you need it.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium-to-large bowl, and then make a well in the center, and pour in your beaten egg and your milk.

sunny side up?

Mix the dough thoroughly.  It shouldn’t really be too wet or too dry — I found it to be right in the middle.

coming together

Now, this is where I was rushing and not thinking.  Spaetzle are supposed to be miniature crosses between noodles and dumplings, and the recipe I was following said simply this: “Dampen a plastic cutting board and place dough mixture on it. Cut off strips of dough into water and cook for 3 minutes.”  So that’s what I did.  Except my dough strips were bigger than they should have been, so I ended up with kind of huge spaetzle.  So, what YOU should do is: don’t dampen a cutting board, that just sort of made things more complicated and sticky.  Get a large cutting board and actually roll out the dough on it, trying to make it quite thin, maybe about 1/4 inch.  Then take a sharp knife and cut thin strips off of that — you may need to cut the strips to be shorter so that each one is 2″ (ish) long.

Once you have your spaetzle strips, put them in the by-now-boiling pot of water, and cook for about 3 minutes.  Mine floated up to the surface (like gnocchi!) when they were done, so yours may do the same.

attack of the huge floating spaetzle

When they are done, drain them and rinse them in cold water.  Set aside for the moment.

Bring another pot of water to a boil, and add the celery hearts.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until they give a little bit when prodded with a fork.  Drain, and shock with cold water.  Add the butter to a pan and sauté until the celery begins to turn “golden brown” (mine never really got to golden brown, but I didn’t want to overcook them so I just stopped after 2 or 3 minutes).

Add the white wine/vermouth, as well as some salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes.

drunken celery?

While this is simmering, heat up the last tablespoon of butter for the spaetzle in a large sauté pan.  Add the spaetzle and whatever meat you are using and sauté until the spaetzle is slightly golden and the meat is warmed through.

now that looks hearty

Serve with a side of the poached celery, and enjoy!  Side note: this is also great with some cheese grated over top, so if that’s something you like, go for it!

my pretty little germanic dinner

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