For when you need an easy, comforting meal at home, I recommend making a Swiss-style Mac & Cheese. Known as Älplermagronen (German) or Macaroni du Chalet (French), this dish often contains boiled, diced potatoes. I’ve omitted this ingredient from my version, due to some strong preferences among my family members. You’ll usually receive applesauce with this dish, but fresh apple slices served on the side works too.
I grew up eating many different versions of macaroni and cheese in the United States — with Velveeta, from a box, and baked with breadcrumbs on top, etc. What makes Älplermagronen special for me is the flavor of the Gruyère cheese, and especially the crispy, browned onions served on top. If you don’t have a Swiss cheese for this dish, feel free to try using another semi-hard cheese.
An easy recipe for lunch or dinner
Swiss Macaroni and Cheese
- 1-2 onions (about 1 cup)
- 1-2 tablespoons flour
- 2-3 tablespoons butter
- 500 g (1 lb.) macaroni
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 200 g (7 oz.) Gruyère cheese (or another semi-hard cheese, such as Appenzeller or Emmentaler)
- 100 ml milk
- 100 ml light cream
- a pinch of nutmeg
- salt and pepper, to taste
- fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)
- Start cooking the macaroni, according to the directions on the package.
- While the macaroni is cooking, slice the onions very thinly, with a mandoline, for example. Place them in a bowl and toss them with the flour until they are well coated. In a frying pan, melt the 1-2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry them (perhaps in batches, depending on the size of your pan) for about 5-10 minutes, turning them occasionally, until they are browned and crispy. When they’re done, transfer them to a plate covered with a paper towel or parchment paper. Set them aside.
- Drain the pasta. In the pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour to the pan and whisk it together with the butter to create a smooth paste. Add the milk, cream, grated cheese and a pinch of nutmeg. Stir almost constantly over medium to medium-high heat until the cheese has fully melted and the mixture has begun to thicken.
- Add the hot pasta to the pot with the cheese sauce and stir until the pasta is evenly coated. Serve immediately topped with the crispy onions and chopped parsley sprinkled on top.