Maultaschen

German Ravioli -- Swabian Pockets -- Filled Pasta Pillows

Originally a Lenten specialty in the Baden-Württemberg area of Germany (with well-known places like Stuttgart, Ulm, and Tübingen), these spinach-filled pasta pillows are usually fortified with ground veal, pork, beef, bacon, or sausage. Maultaschen are served year-round, but especially in the days leading up to Easter.

Maultaschen are said to have been invented by bored cooks during lent, to hide ground pork in spinach and a doughy shell. The dish is so common around Stuttgart it has spawned the insult Maultaschenfresser (fressen means to eat like an animal), hurled at Swabians, for example during sporting events.

On Holy Thursday, serve them in a broth. Fry them in fat and onion on Good Friday. And if any remain, bake them on Saturday with a little cheese and serve with potato salad.

Many people will tell you that Maultaschen is their favorite Swabian food (the area of Baden-Württemberg being called Swabia).

Recipe

There are hundreds of variations to the Maultaschen recipe. But they have in common the dough wrapper and meat with spinach filling. To make them you prepare the filling, roll out the dough, prepare the individual Maultaschen, then boil in salted water or beef broth.

4 Servings

The key to a good dough is how thin it is rolled. Make it like this:

500 g flour
3 eggs
3-4 eggshell halves of water

Mix eggs and water well. Add flour slowly, in small portions while stirring. Work the dough very well until smooth. Test: little air bubbles are visible if you cut the dough with a knife.

Roll portions of the dough down to thin sheets; try to get down to 1 mm or less. Let the dough sheets dry for a while.

Spinach and meat filling is placed into Won Ton wrappers The filling is made with spinach and meat of your choice. Bread and eggs give it consistency and hold it together. It is usually made very spicy. Many recipes call for a few ounces (100 g) of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and fried.

Here's one example:

250 g ground meat (1/2 beef and 1/2 pork)
2 white buns, stale, cut into small pieces and soaked in water
2 eggs
250 g spinach (1 package frozen chopped spinach)
parsley, onion, pepper, nutmeg, salt to taste (other spices you can use include thyme and allspice, and perhaps a little garlic)

Brown the meat and drain excess fat. Combine with the bread (press most of the water out first), spinach (pre-boil it), and spices. Fold in the eggs.

Boil the Maultaschen in salted water, then place on a rack to cool To make the Maultaschen, scoop portions of the filling onto a sheet of dough. Then cover with another sheet, form the units, press into place (you can brush between the pockets with water or egg white to "glue" the top and bottom together), then cut with a pizza cutter or scalloped cutter.

The resulting Maultaschen should be about 1-1/2 to 2 inches square (40-50 mm), like big ravioli. Boil them in salted water or beef broth for about 10 minutes. They should float to the top.

Shortcut

You can purchase Won Ton dough at many supermarkets. It's already cut into a perfect size for Maultaschen, and rolled thin just like you want it. The assembly process may take a little longer working with the individual pieces, but it eliminates the whole dough-making procedure from the recipe.

Serving Suggestions

There are so many ways to enjoy your Maultaschen! Perhaps the simplest is to serve it in a beef broth, perhaps two or three large Maultaschen in a bowl of broth with onions and maybe some bread crumbs and parsley.

Another idea is to fry some onion rings in butter. After the onion is done, pour it and the juices from the pan directly on top of the hot Maultaschen on the plate. A green salad goes well with this.

A classic dish is made by cutting cooled Maultaschen into strips then sautéing until crispy on the outside. This is served with potato salad.

Finally, you can make a casserole by covering Maultashen in a baking dish with strips of ham and cheese. Bake at 375 F (180 C) for about 30 minutes. Serve with green salad.

Wir wunschen Euch "Einen Guten Appetit!"

Comments to Steve and Barbara Hall

Return to Travel and Living Photos Index