Sunday, October 17, 2010

Capuns - Swiss Chard Packets

I went to visit a good friend who lives in the Alps in Switzerland a few months ago and was taken to her husband's family restaurant where I had my first taste of Capuns - savory Chard packets with a filling that is like spaetzle with bits of meat in it. It was simmered in a lovely cream sauce and it was wonderful. It is a Romanisch specialty of Switzerland. Ever since, I have been hungry for another taste so I explored a number of recipes and came up with my own version. Now, I don't know how accurate my recipe is and I will be sure to check with my friend one day and I definitely want to go back to the restaurant to have another taste of the real thing. But, feeling adventurous, I made one of my no fail Spaetzle doughs and add added herbs, cooked onions, bits of Landjaeger sausage and smoked ham. I used Rainbow Chard instead of the usual green leaves as I loved their color so much at the Saturday market in Lindau. I didn't use cream as I substituted whole Lactaid free milk instead so I needed to thicken up the sauce a bit once the Capuns were done. I have to say that it turned out really well. Actually, I loved it! Sorry there is no photo. I didn't realize that my camera stick was full so I will have to wait until the next time I make it to post one as we ate it all before I realized it. But you've got to try this dish - it's very special.


8 ounces of all purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
4 ounces of milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Two Tablespoons of minced chives (or you can also use chopped parsley)
1 small onion minced
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup of Landjaeger sausage or other air dried hard sausage (like salami) cut into small pieces
1/4 cup smoked ham or bacon chopped

10 large chard leaves or 20 small ones
Pot of lightly salted boiling water

2 Tablespoons butter
4 ounces chicken broth
4 ounces milk or heavy cream

4 additional strips bacon cut into small pieces
1 small onion sliced into thin rings
3 - 4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

Mix together flour, eggs, milk and salt. Add in chopped chives. In frying pan, melt butter and add in onions and cook until translucent. Add in sausage and ham and cook until coated with butter for about 2 minutes. Add into flour mixture and stir to mix. Let rest for at least 15 minutes to 1/2 hour.

Cut stems off chard and put into boiling water until just wilted. Cut leaves from only thebottom part of the stems. Lay out leaves on the cutting board overlapping the cut section. Divide up dough and put about 2 Tablespoons into each leaf. Roll up into a little square.

Heat additional butter in large frying pan and add in packets, turning once after just a minute. Add milk or cream and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer gently covered for 15 minutes. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper. If sauce is too thin, remove Capuns to a plate and turn heat up and cook down sauce for an additional 10 minutes to thicken or you can use 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with just enough water to make a slurry and add to sauce - stirring until thickened.

Meanwhile, cook extra bacon with onions until crisp and onions are browned and drain on paper towels. When ready to serve, put 3-4 into each bowl and sprinkle bacon, onions and Parmesan Cheese on top of each dish.

Five Element Analysis

As chard is one of the leafy green vegetables, it is clearly part of the Wood Element and the Spaetzle dough, since it is made of wheat flour adds even more of that element. The cured sausage, ham and bacon are all salty pork products and bring in the Water Element. The chicken stock adds additional Wood whereas the milk or cream, onions and chives add in the Metal Element. Parmesan Cheese gives an extra little shot of the Metal Umami flavor. Earth is given just a bit of an entrance in the caramelized onions but this meal needs a bit more earth for balance and the Fire Element is missing unless you count the bit of red in the stems of the Chard. A Fire meat course or a salad and a sweet dessert would round things off well.

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