Adventures in Cooking

In which I report on a new “recipe” and relive the food adventure (#80).


The hubs and I made this meal on Sunday night: Chicken with brown butter-lemon spaetzle and lemony asparagus. We ended up eating well past 8:00 after cooking for about an hour and a half. However, I know that this can be done much more efficiently if we were to try it again. In fact, a lot of this could be prepped ahead of time.

Most important things first: I think I did fairly well at the embracing the adventure portion of this goal. This all seems pretty silly when you look at the finished meal, with its deceptive spring simplicity. Do not be fooled. This took us three bowls, five pots and pans, three cutting boards, three prep bowls, two knives, a serving plate, corningware, a microplane, tongs, frying scoop and a reamer. (And a bottle of Prosecco.) Things got a bit hectic trying to coordinate all that and two cooks in the kitchen, but there were no major injuries. We even managed to have things finish cooking at approximately the same time!

We’ve made spaetzle before, but only in comforting, saucy combinations. (We used the same spaetzle recipe that I posted here.) We’ve had good luck making spaetzle with a flat grater rather than an actual spaetzle maker, but this time we busted out the real thing for the first time. My in-laws imported one from Germany for us, and I admit that it was a little easier to use. It was also a little harder to clean, so you can definitely work with what you’ve got if “what you’ve got” is a grater or colander.

I knew I wanted to try lighter preparations of spaetzle after I saw one on smitten kitchen. And I’ve been trying to grow some excitement for asparagus. We’ve been attempting to widen our fresh food horizons, and we have never made asparagus before. Of course, we’d never made it because both the hubs and I are fairly ambivalent toward it: we’ll eat it, but we don’t get excited about it.

We still don’t get excited about it, but this was a good start. I snapped the ends and cleaned the stalks up, then I blanched them — cooking in boiling water until they turned bright green, then transferring them to an ice bath. (Cutting board, pot, and bowl the firsts, as well as the tongs.) Meanwhile, the hubs was tossing together the incredibly simple spaetzle dough (bowl the second) and cooking it up in its own boiling water, transferring it out in bunches into some melted butter. (Pot the second, corningware, frying scoop.)

I cut, juiced, and zested one and a half lemons, cutting the other half into wedges for the table. (Cutting board the second, two prep bowls, reamer.) The hubs turned his attention to the chicken, pounding it to an even thickness (cutting board the third) and seasoning it up with coarse salt and pepper. As he cooked that up in some oil (pan the first), I tossed the spaetzle into some butter in a skillet a scoop at a time (pan the second) until each piece started to get some browning on it. Then I transferred it out (bowl the third) and put another scoop in. Once all the spaetzle was browned, I tossed in a tablespoon of butter and moved the pan off the heat so that it would brown and not burn. Then I tossed in the lemon juice, let it cook for a minute, and poured it over the spaetzle.

Meanwhile, I was also tossing the blanched asparagus around in a grill pan to reheat (pan the third). This was the part that was most disappointing. I was hoping to get some grill marks on the asparagus, but I think I needed to toss it with oil first and have the heat much higher. Once it was heated up, I added some lemon zest, salt, and pepper (serving plate). We used the lemon wedges on it at the table (last prep bowl).

Whew. If I were to make this dinner again, I would blanch the asparagus and cook the spaetzle in water before dinner. I would consider using the George Foreman grill for the asparagus or the chicken to lessen some of the craziness around our stove top. I think that I’d add some fresh herbs to the spaetzle to give it a bit more oomph. But it was a good first effort at asparagus and lighter spaetzle, and it made enough that we could both enjoy some for lunch the next day.

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