Enjoy a hearty plate of gooey Austrian goodness at home, with our recipe for Käsespätzle.
You can’t go too far wrong with pasta and cheese but my very hungry travellers have become mac and cheese aficionados, rating plates of the steaming comfort food wherever we roam. Happily, my own rich and decadent version has remained top of the cheesy charts. But after our adventures in Vienna, there’s a new contender for the crown, “Viennese Mac and Cheese”, better known to the locals as Käsespätzle.
The dish is said to have originated in Swabia, a region in southwestern Germany and brought to Austria by Swabian immigrants in the 18th century, it’s still a popular staple in Austria, and just as popular with my Österreich obsessed offspring.
So, what is Käsespätzle exactly? In simple terms, it’s a wickedly warm and gooey masterpiece made with spätzle (a soft egg noodle) and melted cheese topped with a handful of fried onions.
The Spätzle dough is made from a mixture of eggs, flour, and water that is then passed through a Spätzle maker, a kitchen contraption that resembles a cheese grater with giant holes that allow the dough to drop straight into boiling water, where the noodles cook until they float to the surface. The finished noodles are fried in butter and topped with wads and wads of grated Emmenthal and gruyere cheese, then topped with fried onions which add a sweet and tangy flavour to the dish.
Typically served in a cast-iron skillet or a baking dish, straight from the oven, you can find Käsespätzle on the menu of many traditional Austrian restaurants, and while we sampled it at every opportunity, we found the rustic and cosy Pürstner restaurant, located just a few blocks from the Mozarthaus, the best spot for a comforting plate of cheesy goodness.
In a city where we enjoyed many tasty meals, Käsespätzle proved a favourite and a Spätzle maker followed us home. As the weather has started cooling the kids, who are die hard mac and cheese fans, have begun asking for the Austrian alternative. And as a cheese lover, I’ve been happy to indulge their tastebuds. If you feel like a hearty plate of Austrian goodness at home, here’s our recipe.