Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Boundary Country inspires menu

Cathi Litzenberger is inspired by dinner theatre and serves up a comfort feast of chicken and spaetzle.

I spent the weekend in Boundary Country between Rock Creek and Bridesville to enjoy a dinner theatre production by the West Boundary Theatre troupe (aka my brother Terry, his wife Shannon and friends). Every year Terry writes, directs, produces, acts and sings in these comical musicals to raise money for local charities in the Boundary area. Those involved in the production receive no compensation for their efforts other than the applause and smiles from the audience.

The dinner was excellent and put together and served by volunteers at Bridesville Hall. These types of small venues are disappearing every year from towns across B.C. and are often the only places where local talent can perform at minimum or no cost.

The show was called Chickens (like Cats) and was very funny. The entrée for dinner was, of course all homemade and has inspired today’s recipes. Enjoy.

Chicken Paprikash with Spaetzle

1 -3 lb. chicken parts

1 medium onion, diced

1 tbsp. smoked Hungarian paprika (the fresher the better)

2 tbsp.butter or 2 tbsp. margarine

1 tbsp. oil

4 – 6 cups water

Chicken bouillon cube to taste (1 – 2)

1 (8 -16 ounce) container sour cream

Start by heating the oil in a large pot and browning your chicken parts. Remove the chicken and add the butter or margarine to the pot. Sauté the onion in the melted butter until transparent. Add paprika, chicken and water, bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for 45 minutes. Chicken should be very tender and about to fall off bones or into pieces.

Remove chicken to bowl. Add enough fresh water to pot to bring back to original level. Check flavour of broth. If flavour is weak add enough bouillon to produce a well-flavoured broth. Bring broth to boil.

Spaetzle

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup milk

2 eggs (the more eggs, the richer the batter, but 2 is OK)

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 pinch freshly ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 gallon hot water

2 tablespoons butter

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, optional

2 tbsp. minced bacon, optional

Caramelized onions, optional

Mix together flour, salt, white pepper and nutmeg.

Beat eggs well, and add alternately with the milk to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.

Press dough through spaetzle maker, or a large-holed sieve or metal grater. Bring a large pot of water (or broth) to a boil. Drop a few at a time into simmering liquid. Cook 4 – 6 minutes. Spaetzle is cooked when it floats on surface. Drain well.

Sauté cooked spaetzle in butter or margarine. If serving as a side to the chicken, sprinkle chopped parsley, or bacon, or caramelized onion on top if desired.

With all spaetzle cooked and in pot, you now add your sour cream to the chicken broth. The amount is individual according to how creamy you wish the sauce to become (and how much water you started with). At this point you can add about three tablespoons of flour mixed with one cup of water to thicken the broth. The sauce and spaetzle is the best part of this dish so be sure to make enough! They will be coming back for seconds on that part of the dish.

One of the most surprising things about this dish is it actually tastes better the second day. So if you are making it for a special dinner prepare it the day before and simply reheat it one half hour before serving.

To serve, place about 1-1/2 cups spaetzle on plate and add chicken and sauce on top or to the side. As a side dish feel free to add parsley, bacon or caramelized onions.

Gluten-free Spaetzle

and Chicken

For the chicken, use recipe above but add brown rice flour instead of regular flour for thickening.

Spaetzle

2 -1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (which adds the stickiness back into the flour, since it’s gluten-free)

5 eggs

1/4 – 1/2 cup water

(salt to taste)

Mix ingredients together in that order, and start with 1/4 cup of water. You want it to be a wet-dough consistency, but not runny, so if after a 1/4 cup, it’s still too dry that it doesn’t really stick together and string just a little if you pull a piece up, add a little more water at a time until it’s a workable dough.

Press through spaetzle maker, colander or large grater. Cook as above.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist.