Älplermagrone is a Swiss mountain dish that once again looks rather beige but is so underestimated in flavour. Speck is readily available here in Switzerland and is just like pancetta already cubed but you can use any type of bacon for this recipe. I get berated for liking it cold the following day as the cheese solidifies, but reheated for a leftover lunch is just as good.
Ingredients (Serves a hungry 6)
200g grated cheese, Gruyère or any good mountain cheese
500g (or 2 large) baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
Optional spoon full of salt depending on bacon
2 cloves of minced garlic
350g speck or equivalent
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
Generous sprinkle of dried thyme
100ml of white wine
300ml double cream
Preparation and cooking time 45 mins
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Fill a large pan of water with a pinch of salt for the pasta, add the potato cubes and bring to the boil. Allow to bubble for around 5 minutes then add the penne and cook until al dente.
On the hob, heat the minced garlic in some butter, and add the speck cubes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it from crisping. Then add the chopped onions and thyme. Stirring the pan every now and again, cook for 5 more minutes, or until the speck is crisping up and the onions have softened. Remove from the heat and leave to one side.
Just before draining the pasta, put the speck pan back on the heat until sizzling and add the wine to bubble away and cook off the alcohol. Now add the cream and a grated nutmeg and stir well. Take off the heat and set to one side.
Ensure that the potatoes are cooked but not mushy and the pasta is still slightly al dente, then drain in a colander whilst sparing a cupful of the cooking liquid.
Pour the creamy speck sauce with the pasta liquor over the pasta and mix with the potatoes in a baking dish. The sauce should remain fluid but don’t worry the pasta will soak everything up in the oven.
Now add half the cheese and mix in well, then the remaining half, but save enough to sprinkle on top before placing in the oven for around 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Serve with a big spoon full of apfelmousse and some green vegetables.
Warning: allow a few minutes to cool before eating, it is a molten cheesy lava dish straight out the oven!