Some of you are smiling. I’m sure if you are in Swabia (okay, the Baden-Wuerttemberg area mostly), parts of Bavaria and near Stuttgart, you know what maultaschen are. Ahhh, the heart of Swabian cooking! You’ve most likely had them either in a clear broth or with a fried egg. The literal translation is “mouth pocket”. “Maul” is the Swabian (a German dialect) word for mouth and for those of you who know German, “taschen” means pockets. I know, this minced meat/liver/sausage thing doesn’t sound appetizing. You may already be turning your nose up at it. BUT, every American who has ever tried this maultaschen recipe has gone crazy over it. If you want to learn more and how easy it is to make, read on!
I’ve always had maultaschen in soup. I think they were meant for that too. Way back when, hundreds of years ago, monks in the town of Maulbronn, Germany wanted some kind of sustenance when they were fasting. Most monks come up with beer and brewed their own (hence all the monastic breweries all over Europe)…the more yeast and goodness in it, the better. These monks in Maulbronn were a little sneakier though and thought if they could make these liver and veggie filled dough things, that look a lot like ravioli but are square, and hide them in the pockets of their mouth, then they were not breaking their fast! Those silly men. But then again, without the silly men, we would not have my favorite food, maultaschen!
Then a few years ago, my German aunt served this casserole dish to my family on one of our visits. I was immediately hooked. Here’s how to make this wonderfully smelling and good eating maultaschen casserole. I have to admit, I’ve tried it with ravioli, tortellini and other filled pasta items and it’s good…but never as good as with maultaschen. Be sure to buy the packs in the refrigerated section, as those are the very best! My favorite brand and kind is Burger, whose factory you can see on the right-hand side of the autobahn driving from Stuttgart to Heilbronn. Many butchers also sell them fresh, which taste even more heavenly. You can probably get them as far North as Frankfurt for sure….but I can tell you, up in Cologne, I came back empty-handed. Don’t they know how good these things are? Now I’m going to have to teach myself to make batches of them from scratch. Many German omas will make tons at a time, freeze a few batches and give the other batches to family and friends. I had a very lucky, lucky American neighbor whose next door neighbor was such an oma. And through three degrees of separation, I was able to enjoy some too!
Anyway, here’s the recipe for the casserole using these maultaschen. If you try it, let me know what you think!
3 packs of Maultaschen if you are feeding more than four (find them in the refrigerated pasta section at German grocery store, Burger brand is what I use)
1 German container of heavy cream or “sahne” (you can also use reduced fat or even try our American Half and Half)
about 1/4 cup grated Gouda or Parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
chopped tomato or a few carrots sliced
1/2 small onion, cut up small
a small container of fresh mushrooms, sliced
I use a big wok when I am making three packs of Maultaschen…it’s just easier. Fry up chopped onions in butter til they start to get clear. Add your sliced mushrooms and continue to fry. If I am using carrots instead of tomatoes, I’ll add them in now. Start adding in your sliced maultaschen. I cut each maultaschen into three or four strips. Fry that for a few minutes. You can also add fresh parsley at this point. Turn down heat, as you are getting ready to transfer all this to a casserole dish. Make sure you have your oven preheated to 350deg. Pour 1/4 of the container of cream into the wok. Drop one egg yolk into the cream container with remaining liquid and beat to mix it up real well. The yolk is what will thicken your sauce. Then pour this mixture over the maultaschen in the pan. I then season with salt and pepper. You can either add the grated cheese now and mix or you can transfer the maultaschen mixture to a baking pan (Corningware or Polish pottery works best) and then sprinkle the cheese on top. Take the tomato pieces and dot across the top of the casserole, or tuck them inside here and there. Bake uncovered for about 15-20 min or until sauce starts to bubble. And that’s it. Serve it with a nice green salad with my homemade salad dressing below (you’ll never buy bottled dressing again!).
This vinaigrette or German salad dressing, as I call it, is versatile and EASY. The basic ingredients are as follows:
Olive or salad oil
Vinegar (apple cider, red wine or balsamic)
And those are just the basic ingredients. You always want to remember to do about three parts oil to one or two parts vinegar. For a medium bowl full of salad, I use about three TBS of oil and 2 TBS vinegar. I add a few shakes of sugar and a dash more salt. That would be about 1/2 tsp to 3/4 tsp of each. Go ahead and taste it. You’ll see what it needs. I recommend using olive oil, although regular salad oil works well too.
I also like to add:
Fresh parsley (you can use dried too)
Onions (and the key trick here, is to cut it up very, very small; use about 4 TBS total and be sure to add them before you put in any lettuce or fixings)
Grated Parmesan Cheese (I put this on after I put the lettuce into the bowl on top of the dressing and before tossing)
Chives (optional; I use them if I have some)
When I have the time, I also like to make spaetzle from scratch, but I’ll save that for another blogpost! If you have any really good family recipes to share, please add or link them below. I am ALWAYS looking for yummy ideas. I can’t wait to try the curried beef and rice recipe my coworker learned in Japan, so that’s next on my list to try out:-)