Serves six to eight
1 medium savoy cabbage (1½ pounds)
¾ teaspoon whole caraway seeds
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
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3 large leeks, thinly sliced (3 cups)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Large pinch chili flakes
1 thyme branch
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, or more to taste
1¾ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
1½ cups flour
¾cup rye flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 to 1½ cups whole milk, as needed
8 ounces Gruyère or Emmenthaler cheese, grated (2 cups)
Ground black pepper
1. Discard the outer leaves of cabbage; quarter, core and slice the rest. Using a mortar and pestle or the flat of a knife, lightly crush the caraway seeds. Melt the butter in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly colored, five to 10 minutes. Stir in the caraway, garlic, chili and thyme; cook one minute. Add the cabbage and cook, tossing frequently, until very tender and wilted, seven to 10 minutes. Season with vinegar and ¾ teaspoon salt or more to taste. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and 1 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 cup milk. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. The consistency should be that of a sticky cake batter. As the batter sits, it will absorb more liquid; add milk as needed to keep it loose.
3. Working in batches, press the spaetzle through a spaetzle maker or a colander into the boiling water. (If using a colander, either hold it with oven mitts so you don’t burn yourself over the steaming water, or get a friend to help.) As the spaetzle rise to the surface, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to the skillet with the cabbage. Once all of the spaetzle has been added, toss the mixture well.
4. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrape the mixture into a 1½-quart gratin dish. Scatter cheese over the top. Bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Grind a generous amount of pepper all over the top, then serve.
Melissa Clark, The New York Times