älplermagronen – swiss mac & cheese – with roasted apple sauce

everyday, i marvel at life. how i’m living my small life here, in this country, in my home, everything i love around me is so well known. sometimes, i wonder what it’s like to be someone else. to slip into other minds and lives. it’s so inspiring to see the beauty in other people’s lives… luckily, the internet provides a good means to an end. so, i’m making sure i get my daily fix of beauty from inspiring people’s instagram feeds. they provide glimpses into their everyday, what moves them, their wardrobe and livings rooms, how life through their eyes, sometimes on the other side of the world, looks and feels like. it’s humbling. 
so i wonder: would you be interested in getting a feature on my favorite instagrammers and maybe bloggers? shouldn’t i share with you what i think of as the best source of inspiration and happiness there is? giving this a proper thought. since normally i prefer to share my own content and pictures and recipes. we could make it sort of a vessel for inspiration, maybe. hmm. thinking aloud. great one.
let’s move to the food topic. so, the last supper that i hosted was running under the theme “soirée chalet”. i had a lavish, slightly decadent – not rustic, mountainous evening in mind. something a little more glamorous than your ski slope hut french fries and wiener sausage. a night shaped by the sound of clinking glasses, the notion of iceicles reflecting the light of dozens of candles, something utterly swiss – that could just as well take part in a french mountain resort as in aspen. something jet-setty cool and equally cosy. do you get my vision, friends?
so, i opted for the following supper menu here. i must say, it was – from my perspective – the best supper menu i ever created. everything was super simple, yet refined and with a twist, produced from the best, local ingredients, with extra care and love, of course.
supper no. 8 – soirée chalet
mountain style apéro plate of regional sausages & dried meets
quick pickled sellerie with fennel seeds
and home made potato bread
roasted baby beets with manuka honey & thyme
as well as the roasted beet greens with orange
herbacious green salad
mini steak tartar with toast
and of course a tiny cognac
grisons style barley soup
truffled älplermagronen (swiss mac & cheese)
with roasted apple sauce
baked alaska
(from vanilla ice cream)
decadent chocolate layer cake with caramelized walnuts
coffee, tee & passion fruit chocolates
it was heaven to cook. i mean the menu, but also just purely in general. i just love standing in the kitchen for hours. it’s like therapy, only better. so, for all my american readeres: älplermagronen is actually something typical swiss, kind of a poor people’s meal. it’s not very far from the american mac & cheese version. except that we add potatoes to the mac and that we eat it with a sweet apple sauce on the side (no kidding). the swiss mountain people’s pantry used to be rather limited. but some things were never out of stock: maccaroni, lots of potatoes, cream (fresh from the cows, of course), cheese (likewise) and apples. so, this dish was kind of a staple decades ago. and still, to day, it’s a favorite (at least of mine). i added some freshly shaved truffle on top and also some truffle to the cream, to add a special day kick.
the soup can be found here already. and the passion fruit chocolates here. everything else from the menu will be featured here, in due time.
älplermagronen – swiss mac & cheese – with roasted apple sauce
serves four
ingredients for the mac & cheese:
500 g maccaroni pasta (ideally non rigata)
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, mashed
2 cups cream
2/3 cup vacherin (or other creamy, melty) cheese, grated
2/3 cup gruyère (or other full bodied cheese)
3 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. truffle paste
musc, salt, pepper to taste
fresh truffle, if desired
cook the maccaroni according to directions in enough salted water, adding the diced potatoes to the water 5 minutes before the maccaroni are done. in the meantime, prepare the cream: put cream in a bowl, add truffle paste and season with garlic, salt, pepper and musc (remember that the cheese will add some saltiness, as well, so don’t oversalt). drain the pasta and potatoes, then immediately add butter so they don’t stick together. in an oven proof pan layer the mac and cheese. start with a layer of the maccaroni, pour over some of the cream mix, then scatter some of the cheeses over. repeat until everything is used up. cover the pan with foil, then bake at 180c / 350f for about 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through (the top should not turn crispy and dry, so don’t over bake). serve with a fresh shaving of truffle and a side of roasted apple sauce.
note: some swiss like their älplermagrone with caramelized or crispy fried onions. i, however, opted for a luxury version with truffle, this time around. here you can find a previous take on the traditional swiss dish, by the way.
ingredients for the roasted apple sauce:
6 (tangy, firm) apples (i used boskoop), cored but peel on
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup apple juice
3 tbsp. sugar
more sugar and ground cinnamon, to taste
place the cored apples in an oven proof pan. pour the apple juice into the pan so that it lightly covers the base. add cinnamon sticks to the juice. dust the apples with sugar. roast at 220c / 400f for about 30 minutes or until the apples are tender. let cool, then sieve apples with peels on through a passevite (food mill) – the apples’ peels will remain in the sieve. sweeten to taste with a little more sugar and cinnamon, if desired. serve as a side to the maccaroni.

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