Aelplermagronen (Alpine Macaroni or Swiss Macaroni)

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The weather in Chicago is colder than the weather on the top of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps.

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The Midwest is entrenched in freezy, frigid, frosty, frigerific winter weather.

Because we have family and friends who are …

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…dealing with snow

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…experiencing travel delays

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…hunkering down in large pots of hot water…

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…and blinging it old style …

…I am going to share with you the most satisfying, hearty, soul-stirring, comfort-laden recipe I have in my recipe box to help sustain you over the next few days.  Think of this as the epicurean equivalent of a warm blanket, a roaring fire or warm woolen mittens.  IMG_5115-1

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At first, you may think this is just another adult mac and cheese, but don’t let the pasta and cheese fool you.  This is so much more!!!

The caramelized onions and buttery cinnamon apples set off the comforting goodness of the cheesy potatoes and noodles (can you tell I love this?).   The slightly nutty Gruyere (a wonderful melting cheese from Switzerland. named after the town of Gruyères in the canton of Fribourg) and the tasty Appenzeller (an ancient Alpine cheese made in the 6th century in the Appenzell region in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen) deliver just the right amount of savory, stringy goodness (can you tell I did a little research?).

Because this recipe is from Switzerland, I think it’s necessary to use the Swiss cheeses.  I suppose you could substitute if you must, but I know some Swiss farmers who just might not approve.

As for the name?  Aelplermagronen really means Alpine Macaroni, but if you can’t quite get your mouth around Aelplermagronen, just say Alpine Macaroni or Swiss Pasta.

Warning:  If you have children, don’t ever make the mistake of referring to this as Mac and Cheese.  Horrors! There is no child I am acquainted with who wants anything other than the boxed, powdered, cheese-like variety when they are being told they are having Mac and Cheese.   They will reject this on principle alone.   (BTW, I call it The Groaning Apple and that seems to have mass kid appeal).

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You don’t need many ingredients (in fact, I’m guessing this was popular in the Swiss Alps because this was what they had available when they were snowed in on top of those high mountain peaks).

Aelplermagronen

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Ingredients

for the Macaroni:

  • 2 large potatoes (to equal 4 cups)
  • 1/2 lb elbow macaroni (to equal 2 cups dry)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 3 large onions
  • 1 1/2 cups gruyere cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups appenzeller cheese (if you can't find, add another 1 1/2 cups of gruyere)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

for the Apples:

  • 2 cups granny smith apples (about 3 apples)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes

Instructions

for the Macaroni:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F
  • Peel the potatoes and dice into 1/2 " cubes (this will assure that the potatoes get done at the same time as the pasta)
  • Bring large pot (about 6 quarts) of salted water to a rolling boil.
  • Add the potatoes and the elbow macaroni to the boiling water (stir to make sure the pasta doesn't stick together). Boil for 15 minutes or until potatoes are done. Drain the pasta and potatoes.
  • Peel and thinly slice the onions.
  • Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the onions. Fry them until they are golden brown.
  • Grate the cheeses.
  • Put 1/3 of pasta/potato mixture in an ovenproof casserole dish.
  • Add 1/2 of of the grated cheeses to the top of pasta/potato mixture.
  • Add another 1/3 of the pasta/potato mixture
  • Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.
  • Top with remaining 1/3 of the pasta/potato mixture.
  • Add salt and pepper (to taste) to the cream and pour it over the top of the casserole.
  • Spread the browned onions on top of the pasta/potatoes.
  • Cover the casserole dish (so you don't burn the onions) and bake for 10-15 minutes until it is steaming hot and the cheese is melted.

for the Apples:

  • Slice apples (I leave the peel on, but you may wish to remove the apple peel) and cook in melted butter, Add the cinnamon and sugar and cook until browned and soft.
  • To serve, make a ring of the cooked apples and mound the pasta/potatoes in the middle. I generally hold some of the onions to spread on top.
  • If you have time, make this a day ahead and cook for 30 - 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Be sure to cover the casserole dish so you don't burn the onions.
Category: Cook, Cookin' with the kids, Main Dish, Pasta
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(3) Comments and (3) Replies

  1. Bethany | April 2, 2015 at 10:38 am | Reply

    I’m making this tonight! I saw it on a cooking show but they added bacon, which sounds great so I’ll probably add that. If I used red delicious apples instead, do you think it would affect the recipe that much?

    • jill | April 2, 2015 at 10:19 pm | Reply

      I am so glad you are making this tonight. Sorry I’m so late in responding You may already have used the red delicious apples. I think they should be fine. Sometimes the delicious apples can get a little mushier than green apples, but the taste will be fine I’m sure. Let me know how the bacon tastes. I really can’t imagine that it would be anything but luscious. Have a great night. And a great dinner!

  2. Lee | April 30, 2015 at 10:29 pm | Reply

    We had this at a restaurant at the train station in Zurich. They added carrots and bacon. When I make it at home, I add chopped carrots to the potatoes to soften and add cooked chopped bacon. Delicious and hearty!

    • jill | April 30, 2015 at 11:24 pm | Reply

      I am so glad to hear from someone who enjoyed this in the native country!! I love the idea of carrots (and am pretty happy to add bacon to just about anything). I can’t wait to try it….Thanks for the tip and thanks for stopping by. Have a great day..

  3. Michelle | September 3, 2015 at 11:38 am | Reply

    Coming from a swiss person: Älplermagrone truly are one of the best foods when it is cold and yucky outside. Traditionally it wouldn’t be served with caramelized apples but with applesauce instead! I know quite a few people who mix it in with their noodles and cheese etc, just before eating it, but I like to keep them separate. Caramelized apples sound amazing as well! Mmmh, I know what I’ll eat tomorrow.

    • jill | September 4, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Reply

      Thanks, Michelle. I was so excited when I found the recipe (and then adapted it a bit) and to hear from folks who have actually enjoyed this wonderful recipe makes me especially happy. It is waaay to hot and humid where I live right now, but in a couple of months, Alplermagrone will be on the menu once again. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

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