When I told Keith, a.k.a. Mr Picky, what was for dinner this week, he said “Bless you.” You try saying it – Käsknöpfle – and see if you get the same response. Some words just sound like a sneeze, I guess.
But don’t let that fool you.
This week’s Käsknöpfle is … ahem… nothing to sneeze at. This wonderful, cheesy pasta dish enjoyed in Liechtenstein is like mac and cheese, but all grown up … a meal that has had a few years to explore the world and came back refreshed and refreshing – a great, big bowl of alpine comfort…
A free spirit, if you will.
This recipe is for the days when you don’t want everything all wrapped up in a neat little bow. When you want things to be squiggly. And cheesy. And oniony.
Trust me, it’s not too much to ask for. Just ask Liechtenstein.
The fine folks of Liechtenstein recommend three cheeses… Fontina is creamy and has a bit of tang, Gruyere is salty and a bit drier (a bit reminiscent of Parmesan), and Emmenthalier is like a mild swiss cheese. All three have excellent melting qualities. In a pinch, you can substitute any cheese that melts well.
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 cups flour
2 Tbsp butter
2 onions, sliced thinly
1/3 cup (heaping) shredded Gruyere
1/3 cup (heaping) shredded Emmenthaler
1/3 cup (heaping) shredded Fontina
Garnish with extra cheese, as desired
Serve with apple sauce [recipe]
Take a moment to admire the beautiful, yet totally freezing winters of Liechtenstein, high up in the Alps. Now, get ready, because we’re about to build comfort via stovetop travel…
Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and flour. Pretend it’s a flurry of snow. Eventually a thick, somewhat pasty batter will form. In this case, pasty is a good thing. It’ll make the noodles perfectly… noodly… in texture. Set it aside for about 30 minutes to rest and let the bumps even out.
Meanwhile, cut and caramelize the two onions. I stopped when they were deep golden, but in Liechtenstein they sometimes fry them until crispy… it’s up to you!
Now, shred up the cheeses. You can easily add more cheese to this recipe if you want to take a walk on the wild side. I almost recommend it. After all, what is the world without extra cheese?
Next, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add plenty of salt to the water and reduce to a simmer, then begin the process of making the Käsknöpfle. In the past I pushed the batter through the holes of a colander (please don’t laugh at my early photography… much). They also sell special spaetzel boards – you can use one of those, too.
This time, I decided to push it through the dull side of a flat cheese grater with the back of a ladle. It worked very well.
Once the squiggly pasta is cooked (it should only take a couple of minutes – they’ll float when ready), add it to the pan of caramelized onion with all the cheeses. You can cook and scoop (and cook and scoop some more), in batches,until the batter is all gone.
Serve at once… ooey, gooey and melted…
and be sure to do it up right, with plenty of homemade apple sauce…
Because that’s what they do in Liechtenstein.
And they definitely know what they’re talking about when it comes to Käsknöpfle.
Enjoy with a friend, an outrageous view, and a smile.
PS Here’s a bit of the process to make it: