The kitchen is "the best place in the world" according to 44-year-old Rainer Klutsch, who discovered his passion for cooking as a child. "I picked up a lot just watching my mum or nan all the time when they would cook," he explains. After taking a brief detour through a stint as a law student and an insurance salesman in training, Rainer (then in his late twenties) decided to take the plunge and turn his passion into a profession.
Recently, Rainer was kind enough to run circles around his stove to show us the finer points of the Swabian culinary arts. True to his personal motto, Kitchen on Fire, we delved into the following regional specialities: Linsen & Spätzle.
400 g beluga (or alpine) lentils
1 slice of streaky bacon
1 tablespoon of cooking oil
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of soup greens
6 tablespoons of woodruff vinegar
Half a bunch of parsley 4 sausages (wiener or frankfurter)
For the roux
3 tablespoons of butter
1 heaping spoon of flour
For the Spätzle
400 g flour
Rinse the lentils; peel and then dice the onion. Heat the oil in a large pot and sauté the onion. Add the lentils, bay leaves, and about one-and-a-quarter litres of water. Lay the entire piece of bacon into the lentils. Bring everything to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, clean and peel the soup greens and cut them into small cubes. Add them to the lentils, then cover and simmer for another 15 minutes.
To make the Spätzle, place the flour, eggs, a teaspoon of salt, and around 150 millilitres of warm water in a mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer (with dough hooks), blend the ingredients to form a thick, smooth dough. Continue mixing until bubbles begin to appear on the surface. Put a large pot of salted water on the stove, but only let it reach a low boil. If making the Spätzle by hand, dip the Spätzle board (or any small wooden board) about halfway into the hot salted water. Spread some dough over the lower third of the board. Setting the board on the rim of the pot for support, use a wet Spätzle grater (also known locally as a Schlesinger) or a palette knife to shave the dough into the salted water. Bring the Spätzle to a rolling boil, then quench them with cold water. Tip: As soon as foam begins to rise at the top of the pot, the Spätzle are done all the way through.
Heat the butter in a small pan; add the flour and simmer until golden brown. Stir in some lentil broth, then continue stirring until the mixture (the roux) turns nutty and golden. Stir into the lentils and add salt, pepper, vinegar, and sugar to taste. Place the sausages on top of the lentils and heat them up. Wash and chop the parsley. Drain the Spätzle. Serve everything onto plates and garnish with parsley.
For further information: kitchen-on-fire.com