Älplermagronen is essentially the Swiss version of macaroni & cheese. This traditional creamy cheese macaroni dish combines pasta with potatoes, cheese and cream topped with caramelized onions and applesauce making for a hearty, filling meal.
Suffused with the creaminess of the sauce and the sweetness of the caramelized onions and apple sauce, Älplermagronen is one of those dishes that makes you feel all comfy and warm inside.
You can imagine tucking into Älplermagronen after a long day on the ski slopes to warm your cockles. And that’s really why it is such a popular traditional dish in Switzerland, because it is so comforting.
History & Cultural Significance
The earliest published record dating back to the 1400s mentions the Italian speaking region of Switzerland, Ticino, as the place where macaroni originated.
Deriving its name from the word “Älpler” meaning “mountain” and “magronen” meaning elbow macaroni or macaroni shaped like the horns of the mountain goat, this macaroni cheese is specially prepared with Gruyere cheese from western Switzerland.
It is also mentioned by historians that Älplermagronen was named so because the shepherds living on the Alps had to carry their food up the mountains. And dry pasta, due to its light weight, made for a suitable choice.
So, pasta made with their homemade cheese became a common dish for the Swiss, gaining popularity over time.
- Pasta (Penne, hornli or elbow macaroni) - 200g
- Potatoes - ½ kg
- Onions - 2 large
- Gruyère or another Alpine cheese or any firm mature cheese (grated) - 200g
- Unsalted Butter - 4 tbsp
- Heavy cream - 3 tbsp
- Garlic clove (chopped) - 1
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
- Applesauce - for serving
- Preheat oven to 375˚F and prepare a large casserole dish by lightly greasing it with butter.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1 inch cubes.
- Put the potatoes in a large pot with salted water to boil. Once the water comes to a boil, put the pasta in it. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and pasta are tender. Be careful not to overcook as they will be baked later.
- Drain and allow it to cool at room temperature.
- In another bowl, season the cream with salt and pepper.
- Now put a layer of the pasta and potatoes on the base of the prepared casserole dish.
- Next add a layer of cheese followed by another layer of pasta and potatoes and continue for about 2-3 layers. Pour the seasoned cream on the top.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for around 15- 20 minutes until the cheese melts.
- In the meantime, prepare caramelized onions by frying finely chopped onions in melted butter over medium low heat.
- Add a clove of finely chopped garlic for flavoring. Sprinkle with salt and continue cooking for around 30 minutes with occasional stirring until the onions are golden brown.
- Take out the dish from the oven, put the caramelized onions over it and serve with applesauce.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 552Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 378mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 5gSugar: 9gProtein: 19g
Alplermagronen makes for a heartwarming feast when served hot but it also tastes amazingly luscious when served cold.