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MAULTASCHEN

Maultaschen are little “mouth pockets”, German Ravioli that was invented by monks out of desperation. Legend says that during the Thirty Years’ War (1618 to 1648) the monks of Maulbronn were given a hunk of meat during the fasting period. To abide by God’s law, they thought of a way to eat the meat without detection. The monks finely minced the meat, disguised it with spinach and herbs and wrapped it in pasta dough to hide this sin from God. Which is why they are also called “Herrgottsbscheißerle“ in Schwaben, a cute word that basically means cheating God.

Traditionally you really only make Maultaschen on Green Thursday. Since they are kind of a production, many families make a huge stock pile of them to freeze! My aunts would come join my mother, sister, and I, and it was great fun to produce all of these Maultaschen that never taste better than when they first come out of the pot. And butchers are busy supplying all that's needed including the dough - which you can buy in large sheets from the butcher. If too much bread is in the Maultaschen the joke is that they came from the baker... there are as many Maultaschen recipes as there are families and in my family we never used spinach in the filling. 

For the Broth:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil or clarified butter
  • 2 onions, with skin, washed, halved
  • 4 stalks of celery, trimmed, washed, cut into large chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 celery root, peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, split open lengthwise, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 pieces of bone with marrow (ask your local butcher)
  • 10 cups of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh thyme and parsley (amounts to taste)
  • Sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper and nutmeg

Heat the oil or clarified butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Set the onion halves into the pot with their cut sides down and roast the onions for 5-10 minutes or until nice and brown. This will lend great flavor and color to the soup.

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After the onions are well browned, add all of the other vegetables and the bones, letting them sweat for about 10 minutes. Add the water and the herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve or very clean cloth that does not smell of detergent or perfume in any way. Finish with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

The soup can be frozen for up to 6 weeks or stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. This recipe yields about 6 cups of finished broth. You can certainly make the soup without the marrow bones and you can add any vegetables you like or have on hand. 

SOURCE: ADAPTED FROM A FAMILY RECIPE

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For the Maultaschen:

Filling:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 6 slices bacon, finely sliced
  • 2 medium onions finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, split lengthwise, washed and chopped into fine rings
  • 1 hard roll or a piece of day-old bread soaked in water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp spicy mustard
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Dough:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour (400 grams)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • up to 6 tbsp of water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk
     
  • Minced chives and sautéed onion

Combine the flour, 4 eggs, oil and salt together and knead into a smooth pasta dough. Add just enough water to make the dough soft and pliable but not sticky. If it feels a little sticky, knead it for a minute or so, it will come together nicely. Wrap in foil and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

In the meantime, sauté the onion, garlic and leeks in a heavy skillet together with the bacon for 3 to 4 minutes. Place the ground beef into a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs and all of the herbs and spices. Squeeze the water out of the soaked bread, discard any hard crust areas that might be left. Add the bread to the meat mixture. Add the sautéed vegetables to the meat and mix together.

On a floured surface, roll out the pasta dough as thinly as possible. Use a pizza wheel to trim the edges into a neat rectangle and then cut strips that are about 4.5 inches wide. Fill the Maultaschen by loosely placing a 2 inch flat mound of the filling in the center of the dough strip. Do not overfill. Mix the egg yolk with a little water or cream and brush it on one of the long sides of the dough strip. Fold the long edges of the dough strip over one another using the brushed on egg yoke as glue. Carefully flatten the folded up strip of dough with your hands, then use the round handle of a wooden spoon to divide the filled dough strip into about 2.5 inch long sections. Press all the way down, squeezing the filling out of the way until there is no filling in between the 2 layers of dough. Use your pizza wheel or knife to cut the Maultaschen apart. Do not worry if the Maultaschen split open a bit during this process, they will cook fine. 

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle simmer. Carefully slip about 10 Maultaschen into the simmering water. Cook for about 6-8 minutes or until the Maultaschen have risen to the top of the water. Remove and place them on a drying rack to drain the excess water.

Serve submerged in hot broth sprinkled with chives and browned onion to finish.

Leftovers? The Maultaschen can be cut into strips and fried with a scrambled egg the next day. Brown nicely and serve with a big mixed salad.

SOURCE: ADAPTED FROM A FAMILY RECIPE

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