Y'all know we love some mac & cheese over here at Freckle & Fair, and yes, we totally call it mac & cheese even if there aren't macaroni noodles involved. Not even sorry.
So, when I was traveling in Berlin and I found a Bavarian mac & cheese-like substance at a super cute food truck, I ate it. And then my husband got food envy, ordered some and I ate his, too. And then we spotted the same dish in Austria and I was like, "OMG it's that crazy mac & cheese again" and I made sure our trip did not end before I ate it (like, I was kind of annoying about it — whoops). And then I got home and was like, "Do I want to drive 3 hours to eat this stuff again, or should I just figure it out on my own?" And then I fired up the oven.
Kässpatzen — or kässpatzle, or käsespätzle, as Germans can only agree on excessive umlauts — is spaetzle (a long German dumpling-noodle) covered in three types of onions and mountain cheese. It is hearty and rich, as basically all German recipes are. If you can get the spaetzle down, or just get creative/lazy and sub it out for pasta noodles, it's incredibly easy to make and is perfect to fill your tummy for the winter. It's that perfect combination of crowd-pleasing yet exotic that makes this Bavarian dish a winner.
- 3 T butter
- 1-2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced (depends on how much you like onions)
- 500 g/16 oz. spätzle *
- 2 1/2 cups shredded emmentaler cheese (swiss is a good substitute)
- 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup fried onions
*You can make your own späztle at home — it uses simple ingredients and is really easy if you have the right tools (a spätzle press). However, I'm pretty sure no one has a spätzle press. You can use a cutting board and a knife, or even a ricer. I just bought my spätzle pre-made at the store, though I don't think that's as much of an option in America. If you don't want to make your own, I think buying a similarly-shaped would totally suffice — something like rotini or trofie.
- In a medium-sized pot, melt butter and then add sliced onions. You will need to carmelize the onions, and please ignore everything on the internet that claims this will only take 10 minutes. Cook the onions, covered, on low for 30-45 minutes until they are cooked down and brown. Take off the burner and set aside.
- Cook spätzle (or noodles), drain and set aside. If you cook noodles, please do so al dente and about 1-2 minutes under the package directions.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large casserole dish or skillet, pour the spätzle or noodles. Add 2/3 of the carmelized onions, and 2/3 of the shredded cheese and mix until it's all incorporated. Top with the remaining carmelized onions and cheese and place in the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.
- Once cooked, dish out the kässpatzen. Top with green onions and fried onions and enjoy!
Photos and text © Katie Currid, 2015. All rights reserved.