Citizens – trust me on this one, I know whereof I speak!
The Principality of Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in the world – only 62 square miles – yet this tiny postage-stamp of a country has managed to produce one of the world’s tastiest dishes!
Liechtensteiner Käsknöpfle is basically mac and cheese that has evolved to a higher plane of existence. The “mac” are actually spaetzle – which offers a more toothsome bite than pasta – while the cheese is actually a mix of 3 different varieties, each selected for superior flavor and/or meltability. Lastly, add in some caramelized onion for additional goodness and optional apple sauce to heighten the sweetness of each bite.
I wax rhapsodic about this dish – and rightfully so. It is not known outside of Liechtenstein, a true tragedy that I intend to dictatorially fix with this post. 🙂
I personally found the following recipe from the exceptional food blog of Global Table Adventure to be the most canonical – the site they’ve put together is one of my favorites, expect to see other recipes from there cropping up in the future. I especially approve of their selection of cheeses – they are truly the right choices for this dish!
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do – it deserves your attention and your respect.
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 cups flour
2 Tbsp butter
2 onions, sliced thinly
⅓ cup (heaping) shredded Gruyere
⅓ cup (heaping) shredded Emmenthaler
⅓ cup (heaping) shredded Fontina
Garnish with extra cheese, as desired
Serve with apple sauce
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 perfect 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.
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 or push it through the dull side of a flat cheese grater with the back of a ladle. This last method worked very well.
Once the 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…and be sure to do it up right, with plenty of homemade apple sauce, as they do in Liechtenstein.