Spaetzle Burger with Mushrooms and Fried Onions
I’ve got to admit that I had little faith that there would be anything interesting to talk write about a country that is only 62 square miles. If you wanted to, you could walk across the country in less than a day. So, other than being small, what else is there to say about Liechtenstein? As a matter of fact, there’s quite a bit of interesting trivia – just search “fun facts Liechtenstein” and see for yourself.
My favorite story about Liechtenstein is the “Great Swiss Invasion of 2007” – ok, I totally made up that name for it, but the invasion was real. Apparently 107 Swiss soldiers got turn around and accidentally wandered about a mile into Liechtenstein. The 37.6k citizens of Liechtenstein didn’t even notice they had been invaded. The Swiss apologized, but I can’t confirm that a couple of cases of wine were exchanged to smooth things over.
Theres’s also the story about how Snoop Dogg tried to rent the entire country to film a video. The request was denied, but only because he didn’t give enough notice. About a year later, the principality offered up the opportunity for anyone to rent the country. From $70,000 per night, the package would include street signs and customized currency. No reports of anyone actually doing this, but if I ever win the lotto, I might just throw a party there – how cool would that be?
Ok, enough silliness. The Principality of Liechtenstein is a small country surrounded by Switzerland and Austria. It has the 3rd highest GDP per capita in the world (after Qatar and Luxembourg). It is a hereditary constitutional monarchy. The land was first purchased in 1719, and the family continues to rule today (although it took them about 100 years before any family members actually lived in Liechtenstein). The economy is fueled by the production of false teeth – it seems that if you want really excellent false teeth, you want them made in Liechtenstein.
As you can imagine, a country this small does not have a cuisine that is substantially different from that of its neighbors. Although not unique to Liechtenstein, spaetzle is commonly enjoyed and sometimes made into Käsknöfle (basically spaetzle baked with cheese and onions). Since I’ve always wanted to make spaetzle, this seemed a wonderful opportunity. I’ve tried making pasta many times with varying success, the joy of spaetzle is that it’s mostly foolproof. Just make the batter and push it through anything you have that has holes in it – bigger holes=fatter spaetzle. It isn’t pretty, but it’s yummy and makes a great noodle cake for the base of a burger.
Add some beef, cheese, onions and mushrooms and you’ve got a classic burger with meaty yumminess. Oddly the combination didn’t seem heavy, but it certainly is perfect for a cold winter’s day.
This has classic flavors of the region, if you enjoy this burger, you’ll also like the German burger.
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces Gruyere cheese sliced thinly or grated
4 Spaetzle Cakes (recipe below)
Sautéed Mushrooms (recipe below)
Fried Onions (recipe below)
Combine beef, salt and pepper and form into 4 patties. Fry burgers over medium high heat (preferably in a cast iron skillet) until desired doneness. Add cheese about 2 minutes before burgers are done, reduce heat and cover to melt cheese.
To plate, place Spaetzle Cake on each plate, add a scoop of Sautéed Mushrooms, cooked burger patty and top with Fried Onions
2 cups flour
3 eggs (beaten)
¾ cup water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Lightly whisk together all ingredients (don’t over beat) until combined.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Using a slotted spoon or colander, drip the batter into the water in small batches.
Cook for 2-3 minutes, then strain.
Form 4 discs from the cooked spaetzle. Coat the bottom of a non-stick pan with a thin layer of olive oil over medium heat. Fry the spaetzle discs for a 2-3 minutes per side until just lightly browned. Place in a warm oven until ready to use.
18 crimini mushrooms (aka baby bella)
3 Tablespoons butter
Slice mushrooms ¼ inch thick. Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat until foam starts to subside. Add the mushrooms and cook until brown – don’t mess with the mushrooms too much, shake the pan a couple times to turn them over, but don’t stir or use any tools – the more they sit on the pan, the more you’ll get nice browning.
1 large onion
Vegetable oil for frying
Slice the onions into rounds and separate the layers. Place some flour in a bowl and generously salt it. Dredge the onion rounds in the flour. Heat the oil to 350°F. Fry the onion in batches until onions are lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
©Copyright 2016 Linda Monach