Älplermagronen or Swiss Mac & Cheese

This recipe would fall into the “food around the world” category and is one of the things I took with me when I emigrated Switzerland (luckily it was in my head and needed no space in my heavily oversized, overweight suitcase or it might not have made the cut). It’s a traditional Swiss dish, after the Italians were nice enough to bring pasta with them when they moved north and made friends with the, probably rather strange, inhabitants of the Alps. Here’s my version:

Serves 4

20121223-120348.jpgIngredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped into slices
  • 4 small potatoes, cubed (with skin)
  • ca. 1.5 cups (400g) pasta (I use whatever I have, Penne, macaroni or similar)
  • 6 stripes of bacon or 4 slices of ham, chopped – optional
  • 1 cup (250ml) cream
  • 1 cup (250g) cheese, grated (again, use what you like. I recommend a Swiss Cheese (Gruyere, Sbrinz, Emmental…) or Parmesan)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Applesauce

Directions:

Bring 4 cups of water (1 l) of water to a boil, add salt and cook pasta according to package. We Europeans think you Canadians overcook your pasta but do whatever you like, it’s your meal…Steam cubed potatoes or add to pasta and cook until soft. Drain. Meanwhile:

In a frying pan, melt butter. Add onions and fry until soft, add ham. If you use bacon instead, leave away butter and start by frying bacon, then add onions. Drain some of the fat. Or leave meat out altogether. Add cream and heat up. Do not bring to a complete boil though, as dairy can separate. Add cheese, salt, pepper, and pasta. Mix well. Add potatoes and mix in very gently to avoid breaking the potato cubes.

Serve with apple sauce. That probably sounds strange, but TRUST me on this one. Depending on what Canton (the Swiss “states”) you would eat this, the recipe would differ. Some are with ham, some with bacon, some vegetarian. Some use potatoes, others leave it out. Some might be strict on what type of pasta or cheese to use, I say the heck with it, use what you love and make it your own. I hope you enjoy this!

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