Mac’n’cheese is synonymous with quick-and-easy dinners when you want something comforting and hearty with as little effort as possible. This version, by Maria and Eva Konecsny, requires a tiny bit more work and a few more ingredients than your average mac’n’cheese, but the pay-off is worth it. Serve it to dinner-party guests and boast that you made your own noodles – or just curl up on the lounge with a big bowl of the stuff for a cheesy, carb-y night in.
The Konecsny sisters are the founders of Gewurzhaus, a group of stores selling an array of small-batch and single-origin spices right across Australia. This recipe is from their cookbook, Kindred, which is a celebration of spice and its transformative powers, as well as of their German heritage.
“The title says it all: this is a fancy version of mac’n’cheese with homemade German noodles, crispy onions and gooey cheese,” write the Konecsnys. “Simple flavours that just work together.”
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This recipe calls for a spaetzle maker – or, in German, spaetzlehobel – to make the noodles. You can find these online by searching “spaetzle maker”. Alternatively, some European delis sell dried spaetzle that you can simply cook to make this recipe. It’s made with a much wetter dough than regular pasta dough, as it needs to be wet to pass through the spaetzle maker.
Maria and Eva Konecsny’s German mac’n’cheese
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
450g (3 cups) plain flour
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp fine Himalayan pink salt
300g cheese, grated (we use a mixture of Gruyère, cheddar and gouda in equal parts;
Emmenthaler and Jarlsberg are also excellent options)
60g salted butter
1 large onion, halved and sliced
A pinch of fine Himalayan pink salt
A pinch of white sugar
First, make the caramelised onion. In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until golden brown, about 20–30 minutes. Halfway through cooking, add the salt and sugar to help the caramelisation. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan-forced.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil over high heat.
To make the spaetzle (noodles), place the flour, eggs, nutmeg and salt in a mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon, lightly mix the ingredients together. Gradually add 250ml (1 cup) of cold water, a little at a time, while stirring, until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix – better less than too much.
Fill a spaetzle maker with some of the dough and quickly move the dough box back and forth over the pan of boiling water, so the spaetzle fall into the water. Continue until the dough box is
empty. Cook for 1–2 minutes, until the spaetzle rise to the top.
Using a large slotted spoon, take them out of the pan, gently shaking off the excess water, then transfer to an ovenproof dish. Add a layer of cheese and continue until all the spaetzle are made and the cheese is used up.
Sprinkle the caramelised onion over the top, then bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes. The cheese will have melted and the corners will start to get nice and crunchy.
Kindred by Maria and Eva Konecsny, published by Plum, RRP $49.99, photography by Armelle Habib & Amy Whitfield.