The New Gastronome
Freaky Pairings Episode VII: The Lactic Feast to Survive Winter
by Constanze Weiss
by Constanze Weiss
As I prep my mis en place, they are all there; the ingredients I tend to miss most from my Austrian homeland scattered around the kitchen counter. Already, the cheese – a Pinzgauer Bierkäse (beer cheese) from the Salzburgian mountains – adds a hearty fragrance to the room and it hasn’t even left its packaging yet.
“That’s fine”, I think. After all, he is the protagonist of this dish. The dish itself – Pinzgauer Kasnock’n – are a speciality of the Pinzgau region, a kind of egg pasta covered in melted cheese, butter and crispy onion, usually eaten with a green salad and a lovely slice of dark bread. It’s comfort food at its finest.
Now, what to drink with this traditional Austrian dish? Obviously, you could go with a chilled beer or an equally refreshing glass of white wine, but the best way to eat it is with a fresh jug of whole milk. Yes, milk. And yes, for lunch or dinner time. The combination works, smooths down the stronger flavours of cheese and onion, adds a certain element of sweetness the dish itself is clearly lacking and refreshes the mouth after an explosion of gooey goodness. If Kasnock’n are comfort food, this is the ultimate comfort combination, bringing to mind alpine huts and grandmotherly love.
400 g flour
1/4 liter of water or half-and-half milk and water
3 medium-sized eggs
a spätzle grater or the rough side of a grater
25 g butter
400 g Pinzgauer Bierkäse (or any mountain cheese, if you cannot find the original)
1 g onion
1/2 bundle of chives
1- In a pot, add a pinch of salt to your water and bring it to a boil.
2- While the water is coming to a boil, mix the “pasta” ingredients to form a dough until well incorporated, but take care not to overmix them. The dough will have a slightly sticky consistency and should easily fall into the water through the grater.
3- Once the water has reached a boil, “grate” the dough through the spätzle grater into the water and bring it to a boil again. Cook for a couple of minutes until the dough has firmed up. Drain through a sieve and leave to cool on the side.
4- Cut the cheese into small squares and cut the onion into rings, while about half of the butter is warming in the pan. Then, fry the onion in the butter until crunchy.
5- Add the rest of the butter and fry the “pasta”. Add the cheese and mix well.
6- Before finishing the cooking process, turn the heat up to high until a crunchy crust forms on the bottom of the dish.
7- Serve with the browned onion rings and some chives. Best eaten from the pan and combined with a cold glass of milk.
Photos: Aarón Gómez Figueroa