I've never seen my little Luusmeitschi devour something as rapidly as this gourd-y Älplermagrone. The noodles squelched out from between her fingers and splatted on the table as she gurgled and grinned for more. By the end of the macaroni massacre her chair, the table, most of the floor and her entire head and hair, neck, arms, onesie, legs and feet were covered in pumpkin.
'I guess I'll make that again', I thought to myself as I lifted her out of her chair by her armpits, practically the only sauce-free spot on her, and plopped her directly in the tub.
The classic Swiss dish, Älplermagrone, is a staple at our house, though usually made by my husband Sam, who gets it impossibly creamy and perfect every time.
The original was made by Swiss Älpler, or herdsmen, who would spend their summers high in the Alps, as their animals grazed the meadows. At the beginning of the season, the herdsmen carried up all the food they needed for the summer. Pasta would have been a lightweight, but energy dense food source. Milk and cheese were abundant on the Alp, which explains using milk as the liquid element and melty cheese to hold everything together.
Sitting around a fire with a big pot of boiling milk, the Älpler would add potatoes, then pasta, then cheese. Ladled into bowls, they might add sausages, onions or applesauce to the dish. This version removes the potatoes and adds in roasted pumpkin or squash, to make it slightly sweet, incredibly creamy, and delightfully orange.
The latest edition of Migusto, Migros' cooking magazine also has a take on Älpler Mag with pumpkin—though with chunks of gourd and apple, and not nearly as creamy. This recipe, on the other hand, will give you a super slurpy, supremely delicious dish, perfect for chilly autumn evenings.
a pumpkin or squash around 1 kg / 2 lb (a little more or less won't hurt)
1 L milk
300 g macaroni
1 stock cube
200 g hard cheese, grated
nutmeg, salt and pepper
crispy bacon to garnish
Preheat your oven to 200 C / 400 F / gas mark 6.
Cut your pumpkin or squash in half, remove the seeds, and place it cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake in the oven for about half an hour, or until you poke it with a knife and it slides off easily. Baking time will vary based on which variety you use.
When the flesh is tender, take it out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Scoop out the innards (or scrape away the skin) and put this in a big pot.
Use a potato masher to loosen up the flesh, then add the milk. Mash the pumpkin or squash into the milk.
Bring to a boil, then add the macaroni and stock cube. Stir well.
Cook for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot and if it looks a bit dry, add some additional milk or water and give it a stir.
Once the pasta is cooked (this can take an additional 5-10 minutes depending on your pasta) add the cheese and mix well. If you like a saucier macaroni, add a splash of milk. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Garnish with bacon and serve with applesauce.
- In German, there isn't a distinction between squash and pumpkin—all of these gourds referred to as Kürbis (even the German Wikipedia article complains about English having too many "trivial names" for different varieties of gourds). Your best bet for this recipe is a gourd suitable for pureeing, with firm, dry flesh, not too stringy.
- Any hard cheese can be used. Possibilities include: Appenzeller, Vacherin Fribourgeoise, Sbrinz, Gruyère, or a mix. I used pure Appenzeller in this one and it was excellent.
- Serve with apple sauce, fried onions, fried bacon, fried cervelat...
- Serves about 4 people (or three plus one hungry baby...)