Jenn Louis learned this recipe from home cook Gianna Messina in the Trentino-Alto Adige town of Trento. Near Italy's border with Austria, the food takes on a distinctly Teutonic bent with spätzli, a close Italian cousin of German spätzle. Louis' spiced, citrus-laced pangrattato, or bread crumbs, provide a welcome crunch and bright pop of flavor to this dish. Featured in: All the Gnocchi.
For the Pangattato
- 1⁄3 cup schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or olive oil
- 1 (1-lb.) loaf country bread, crust removed, cubed
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 medium jalapeño, chopped
- Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- Finely grated zest of 1/2 lime
- Finely grated zest of 1/2 orange
For the Spätzli and Serving
- 2 lb. fresh spinach, stemmed
- 1⁄2 tbsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for greasing
- 3 oz. sliced speck or pancetta
- 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
Make the pangrattato: Heat oven to 275°. Melt schmaltz in a 12" skillet over medium. Add bread and season with salt and pepper; cook until lightly toasted, 6-8 minutes. Transfer bread to a baking sheet; bake until slightly dry, 18-20 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeño; bake until everything is dry and crisp, about 45 minutes, and let cool. Transfer to a food processor; pulse into coarse crumbs. Stir in citrus zest.
Make the spätzli: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spinach until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Transfer spinach to an ice bath until chilled. Drain spinach and transfer to a clean kitchen towel; squeeze until mostly dry. Transfer spinach to a food processor. Add nutmeg, salt, and eggs; purée until spinach is minced. Add flour; purée, scraping down sides of processor as needed, until a smooth, thick batter forms, about 4 minutes. Transfer batter to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Bring a fresh pot of generously salted water to a simmer over medium-high. Working in batches, and using a [spätzle maker](http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-Stainless-Steel-Spaetzle-Maker/dp/B001DMCM6Y/ref=pd_sim_sbs_k_5?ie=UTF8&refRID=0122V1PV5MWBAA85GNZ0) or colander with large holes, press batter into the simmering water. Cook until spätzli float, about 1 minute. Stir and cook until tender, about 1 minute more. Using a slotted spoon, transfer spätzli to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high. Cook speck until crisp, 1-2 minutes; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Wipe skillet clean and add butter; cook over medium until butter turns a deep golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Add reserved spätzli and toss to combine; divide between plates. Crumble speck over the top and sprinkle with some reserved pangrattato.