There is no English translation for “Nockerl”. The proper German word “Nocken” actually refers to an engineering term (“cam” as in “camshaft” in case you wanted to know…). Austrian cuisine knows “Nockerl” in different shapes and flavours (sweet “Salzburger Nockerl” are fluffy egg white peaks baked in a pool of double cream), while Hungarians consider a slightly smaller version to be the most appropriate side dish to accompany “Pörkölt” (Paprika based meat stews).
I normally use butternut squash for this dish, but my little son insisted on getting a white/yellow /green speccled variety called “Gorgonzola”. It had a pronounced sweetness which was lovely in this dish, but I did curse while trying to cut it into chunks. I am simply too weak for this kind of stuff.
Ingredients: 1kg squash, 250g plain flour, 20g potato starch (alternatively, increase the amount of flour to 300g), 1 egg, nutmeg, pepper, salt, a handful each of sage leaves and walnuts, 80g butter, parmesan cheese, sweet smoked Spanish paprika
- Cut the squash into pieces and roast in the oven at 170°C for 45 minutes or until tender.
- Peel the squash. It should give about 750g of roasted flesh.
- Puree in a blender.
- Add the flour, potato starch, egg and season with grated nutmeg, (1/2 tsp) salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add some salt and reduce the heat.
- Make the “Nockerl” using two dessert spoons. This will take a while. Keep your calm, they will not cook to mash or anything.
- Let the “Nockerl” simmer for another 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.
- Melt the butter in a pan until it starts to caramelize, add the sage leaves and leave to fry on a medium heat for three minutes, then add the walnuts and fry for another minute.Turn off the heat and keep warm.
- When the “Nockerl” are ready, drain and immediately toss with the sauce.
- Top off with a generous dusting of smoked paprika and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.