Here’s a quick recipe for omeletten, Swiss-German eggy pancakes with a ground beef filling.
In Switzerland, you will find different types of omelettes, depending on which linguistic region you live in. The one important difference between these types of omelettes? Flour.
In French-speaking Switzerland, for example, your omelette will most likely NOT contain any flour and will resemble an omelette you might find across the border in France. In German-speaking Switzerland, however, omeletten ARE generally made with flour. As a result, they look and taste more like a thicker version of a crêpe, rather than what you might traditionally think of as an omelette. You can serve them with sweet or savory fillings.
One classic Swiss-German filling for omeletten, which I first learned of from Franziska Wick, the founder of Wild Kitchen, is ghackets (also known as hackfleisch). Made with ground beef and vegetables, it reminds me of a Swiss version of a bolognese sauce. Ghackets is often paired with hörnli, which I would describe using my American lens as “elbow macaroni,” along with a side of applesauce.
Omeletten with ghackets is a perfect example of comfort food that may conjure up childhood memories of sitting around the family table. When I was a kid in Minnesota, my mother would have made what she referred to as “Barbeques,” more commonly known as “Sloppy Joes.” These ground beef sandwiches are like the American cousins of the Swiss omeletten — easy to make and very kid-friendly.
How to make omeletten:
Omeletten with Ghackets
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 4 eggs
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup milk
– 1-2 teaspoons of butter, for the frying pan
– 1 tablespoon butter
– about 1 small onion, finely chopped
– 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
– about 1 carrot, very finely chopped
– 1 stalk of celery, very finely chopped
– 1 lb. (500 grams) ground beef
– 1/2 cup red wine
– 1 1/2 cups tomato purée
– 1 bay leaf
– a couple sprigs of fresh thyme
– fresh parsley, finely chopped
– salt and pepper, to taste
1. First make the batter for the omeletten. Add the flour and salt to a large bowl. Whisk together. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and add the remaining ingredients: the eggs, water and milk. Whisk together until the batter becomes smooth and well-combined. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes. (Please note: You can also make the batter in advance and let it rest in the fridge for several hours before using it).
2. When the batter is ready, add the butter to a frying pan over medium-high heat. Next, add the onions, garlic, carrot and celery. Sauté for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions become transparent. Add the ground beef, breaking it up so the vegetables are evenly incorporated.
3. Once the meat has browned, add the red wine, tomato purée, bay leaf and thyme. Simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
4. While the meat is simmering, start cooking the omeletten in a special crepe pan or another small frying pan over medium-high heat. Melt some butter in the pan, and then using a ladle, pour in about one cup of batter. Tilt the pan around, if necessary, to make sure the batter spreads evenly across the pan to make a round shape. Cook for a few minutes on each side until lightly browned. You can keep the omeletten warm by placing them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper in an oven heated to 100ºC / 200ºF. In all, you will make about 8 omeletten.
5. Stir in the chopped parsley to the meat mixture, and serve it immediately, wrapped in the warm omeletten.