Hotel Alpenland in Lauenen is small and simple—one of those hotels I love. At breakfast, two ski-lift operators were at the next table having their morning coffee. It feels homey and miles from the ritz and glitz of Gstaad, though it’s just a 20-minute drive away.
I’ve had many iterations of this macaroni dish, which Appenzeller claims as its own, but my favorite version is from Hotel Alpenland, due to its simplicity. This is pure mountain food for shepherds and herdsmen: cream, cheese, potatoes, bacon, and shelf-stable dried pasta, complemented by applesauce. It’s basically mac and cheese on steroids—without the side effects.
Note: If you can’t find Berner Hobelkäse, a hard raw-milk Swiss cheese without holes, you can substitute any aged cow’s-milk cheese, such as réserve Gruyère or Emmental Switzerland Premier Cru.
Alpine Cooking, by Meredith Erickson is available now.
Älplermakkaronen Herdsman Macaroni
- 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed, (450g)
- 9 oz dried macaroni or penne, (250g)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 5 oz thick-sliced bacon, cut into lardons, (140g)
- 1/4 cup white wine, (60ml)
- 2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, (480ml)
- 1 cup heavy cream, (240ml)
- Fine sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
- 1/4 cup Berner Hobelkäse cheese, grated
- Applesauce for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, stir, and boil for 3 minutes before adding the pasta, then cook together until the potatoes are just tender and the pasta is firmly al dente, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the onions and bacon and cook until the onions become translucent and the bacon has rendered its fat, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour in the white wine, stirring to loosen any caramelized onion or bacon bits. Turn the heat to high and simmer the wine until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Add in the vegetable broth and cream, followed by the potatoes and pasta.
- Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the minced parsley.
- Divide the pasta-potato mixture into individual ramekins or transfer to an ovenproof serving dish, then sprinkle with the grated cheese and broil until nicely browned, about 3 minutes, keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings.
- Serve with applesauce on the side.
Reprinted with permission from Alpine Cooking, by Meredith Erickson, copyright © 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.Photographs copyright © 2019 by Christina Holmes.