Gschwellti mit Kräuterquark
One of Switzerland’s (and Sam’s) favourite meals is one of its simplest, Gschwellti mit Chäs, boiled potatoes with cheese.
It might not sound very exciting, but I assure you that the tender sweetness of a new potato, plus a salty Alp cheese with a whiff of hay, is heavenly.
My mum often made Gschwellti mit Chäs in Canada while I was growing up, and I loved pairing my potatoes with a thin slice of gorgonzola, or flakes of butter and sea salt. My mother-in-law uses it as an excuse to eat her body weight in Ziger, while Sam likes a dollop of cottage cheese and a drizzle of Birnenhonig.
Another traditional topping is Kräuterquark. Quark, the German version of sour cream, mixed with fresh herbs and spooned over top.
My favourite potatoes to use are tiny new potatoes, which have lately appeared at our local self-serve farm shop.
My father-in-law cooks his Gschwellti in his beloved Dampfkochtopf, pressure cooker, which he swears makes the tenderest spuds, but at my house it’s the old-fashioned way, boiled in a pot.
It was this fantastic video, Margrit’s Alpquark für Gschwellti, that inspired me to make Kräuterquark to go with my Gschwellti (it’s worth watching just for the adorable knife-wielding toddler).
potatoes (around 200 g per person)
Scrub your potatoes, removing any sprouted bits and green spots, but do not peel.
Put potatoes in a large pot and just cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
The cooking time will really depend on the size and variety of your potatoes, though it will generally take around 20 minutes for little new potatoes and about half an hour for slightly larger varieties. The best test is to prick them with a sharp knife and when they easily slide off the knife they are cooked.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the water and let them sit in the pot until you are ready to serve. Avoid running them under cold water, as this can make their skins crack open.
250 g Quark
1 spring onion, minced
the zest of one lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
a handful of herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, chives, parsley etc.), minced
salt and pepper
Serve over Gschwellti.
The Swiss potato website kartoffel.ch lists all their festkochend, waxy, potatoes highlighting the best to use for Gschwellti. Frühkartoffel, early potatoes, are what I used here, and taste outstanding. At other times of year I use Amandine or Erika as well.
The amount of potatoes is up to you, but most recipes I read calculated around 200 g per person (this is the same amount typically suggested for raclette). Do what suits you. I always make more Gschwellti than I need—see below for some great recipes to use up any leftovers.
If possible, use potatoes that are around the same size, this will allow them to cook more evenly.
I used a half fat Halbfett Quark / Séré demi-gras / Quark mezzo grasso here. If you are feeling decadent, there’s the full fat Rahmquark / Séré à la crème / Quark alla panna, or go for the the lighter variety Magerquark / Séré maigre / Quark magro. More on Quark here (plus tips on availability in other countries). A quick substitution would be sour cream.