Kasspatzen (Spaetzle and Cheese Casserole)
This classic dish is to Bavarians what mac-n’-cheese is to Americans. To make the little dumpling-like spaetzle, a soft dough of flour, egg, and milk is forced through the holes of a spaetzle-maker into a pot of salted boiling water and cooked until tender. (You can use a flat grater with large holes as a substitute for the spaetzle-maker, but this is more time consuming and can be messy.) The spaetzle is then drained and layered with bergkäse (Alpine cheese) and onions and baked briefly in a casserole. If you can’t find imported bergkäse, substitute Gruyère.
Melt the butter in a large skillet; add the onion and cook until tender and golden. Set aside.
In a large pot, heat the water to boiling. Adds two teaspoons salt and cover, keeping the water at a boil while you prepare the spaetzle dough.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, remaining teaspoon salt, and the nutmeg. Stir in the eggs and gradually add enough milk to make a soft, wet dough. (You may not need the whole cupful.)
Force the dough through the holes of a spaetzle-maker into the boiling water and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until tender. Drain well.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Arrange half the spaetzle in the bottom of a buttered shallow casserole dish; top with half the Emmentaler, bergkäse, and the onions. Layer the remaining spaetzle, then the cheeses and onion. Top with the breadcrumbs. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with fresh ground black pepper.Photo from iStockphoto