This delicious specialty from the south west of Germany is a rightly beloved classic: pasta dough is stuffed with a mix of ground beef, sausage meat, spinach, bread, eggs and herbs and then cooked in beef stock.
You know those incredibly frustrating moments when your kids are whining about being starving but then start howling like hungry hyenas when you tell them what’s going to be for dinner? Makes me want to wring some necks… Thank goodness that never happens when I make this dish, so let me introduce you to a classic German staple: The Swabian Maultasche!
The Maultasche hails from the south west of Germany and is the stuff of legends: Apparently a Catholic monk in Swabia came by a scarce piece of meat and prepared it with some greens he had on hand. But because it was Lent, a time where the monks were not allowed to eat meat, he wrapped it in pasta dough so God’s eyes could not see the meat. 👀
It’s more likely that the Maultasche (which translates literally to “mouth bag”) migrated to Swabia from Carinthia in Austria and originated in Italy, morphing from raviolis to Maultaschen, but that’s not as fun a story!
The c You can then either serve them in the broth with a generous smattering of chives or pan fry them until the outside is brown and crispy and serve it with fried onions (which I unfortunately didn’t have on hand, so you’ll have to mind-edit those in) and a fresh salad.
Either way they taste amazing!
These definitely work best if you have a pasta machine, but a rolling pin and some elbow grease will do the trick as well.
Ingredients Pasta Dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
200 g finely ground beef
200 g finely ground sausage (it’s best if you can find German Bratwurst sausages and then remove the filling from the casing!)
1 white onion, finely chopped
200 g fresh spinach
20 g flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 slices toast, cut into cubes
½ cup milk
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 cups (1,5l) good quality beef stock
1 bunch chives
If serving with salad, assemble a salad of your choice and serve with fried onions sprinkled top.
For the pasta dough
Sift flour into a large bowl. Add salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and olive oil together with a tablespoon of water. Add to the flour mixture and combine to form one mass. It will look rough and floury, but don’t worry, it will come together. Lightly flour your counter, dump the dough out and knead until silky and smooth. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
For the filling
Set a large pot of salted water to boil.
Wash the spinach and remove any leaves that have gone bad. Turn the heat down on the stove so your water is at a simmer.
Blanch the spinach in the simmering water for 2 minutes. When done, remove with a slotted spoon and plunge straight into a bowl with ice water water. Pour into a colander to drain. Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the spinach, first with your hands, then with a wad of kitchen paper or kitchen towel. Chop finely.
Place the toast cubes and the milk in a bowl to soak through for a few minutes.
Sauté the onions with ½ teaspoon of olive oil on medium heat until glassy and soft. Add the chopped parsley and sauté together for a minute. Move to a large bowl and set aside to cool.
Use your hands to squeeze the milk out of the toast cubes and add to the onion-parsley mixture.
Now add the ground beef, ground sausage, 2 eggs, chopped spinach, salt, white pepper and nutmeg to the bowl. Using your hands (I wear disposable gloves because I’m squeamish that way), mix and squish everything through thoroughly. You want the filling to be very smooth, so it’s especially important to break the meat up thoroughly to make a homogenous mass.
Fill the mixture into a big piping bag without a piping tip and place into the fridge while you prepare the pasta dough. If you don’t have a piping bag, don’t worry, we’ll work around that!
You can already prepare a large pot with the beef stock and set it to simmer so you can throw the Maultaschen in right away.
If you’re using a pasta machine, divide the pasta dough into five pieces.
Cover the dough you are not working with with a damp kitchen towel.
Run each piece through the pasta machine, dusting the sheets lightly with flour as you go, setting the machine progressively thinner until you have a long sheet of dough that is about 1mm thick. This was the setting 6 on my Marcoto pasta machine.
If you’re rolling the pasta dough out by hand, make sure to flour your work surface and rolling pin well to prevent any sticking. We’re looking to have long strips of pasta dough with a width of about 14cm (5,5”).
If you’re using a piping bag, cut the tip off so that you have an opening of about 3,5cm (1,3”).
Lay out one strip of pasta dough and pipe a long line of filling lengthwise onto the middle of the dough. Fold (again lengthwise) one side of the dough over the piped filling to the other.
With the handle of a wooden cooking spoon, press deep indentations into your roll of pasta dough and filling about 7cm (2,5”) apart. Use a sharp knife to cut through these pieces. Press the edges together all around with your fingers to make sure they’re sealed properly.
If you’re working without a piping bag, place a tablespoon of filling every 7cm (2,5”) along the length of pasta dough. Then fold one side of the dough over the filling to the other. Cut in-between the filling mounds and press the edges together all around with your fingers to make sure they’re sealed properly.
Repeat until all the dough and filling are used up.
Place in the pot with the simmering beef stock and cook for 5 -10 minutes.
If you’re unsure whether or not the Maultaschen are done yet, fish one out with a slotted spoon and cut it open to make sure. The meat should no longer be pink.
Serve garnished with chopped chives in a bowl with the beef stock.
If you’d like to make the fried version, cook the Maultaschen in the beef stock first.
By the way, the beef stock will be especially delicious as it will have soaked up all the gorgeous Maultaschen flavours, so definitely refrigerate it and save it for another purpose.
Heat a big knob of butter in a large pan until it starts foaming. Add the 4 to 5 Maultaschen at a time and fry until brown and crispy on both sides. Garnish with fried onions and serve with a colourful salad.
Maultaschen freeze well, just let them cool down, then freeze separated on a tray. Once frozen, place them into a freezer bag with the air squeezed out. They will keep in the freezer for 3-6 months.