One of the best gifts I received for our wedding was from my husband’s Oma (grandmother) – a cookbook on traditional Viennese Cuisine. With me not having so much as a single clue about traditional Viennese food, I’m sure she wanted to make sure that her grandson would be able to have a little bit of home, despite him being so far away from her kitchen.
One of his favorites that I tend to make when the weather gets a bit cooler is a baked pasta casserole called Schinkenfleckerl. Schinken is the German word for ham and Fleckerl is a type of traditional Viennese pasta. Like any casserole, it’s delicious at any time of the year, it’s just my preference to use the oven during cooler weather. While a pretty simple dish to make, there are a few tricks that I only learned as I kept at it. Oh yeah, you guessed right! The first couple tries did not look (or probably taste) like Schinkenfleckerl should.
Light and fluffy, the finished mix ready to be baked.
I’ve learned to start with room-temperature eggs; this makes forming ‘stiff peaks’ easier. Also, beat the egg whites first, then froth the butter. Always use a pristine beater, as any fat on the beater will keep your egg whites from frothing. The butter should also be at room temperature for easy frothing. Why all this frothing, why not just combine the ingredients and throw them in the oven? Texture. A traditional Schinkenfleckerl is light and airy yet filling. The beating process incorporates air into the ingredients. Final suggestion; don’t overmix when combining everything. ‘Folding’ the ingredients together will keep all your hard work from going to naught.
Fresh out of the oven, allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting.
½ lb Felckerl* pasta (small, flat and square peices of pasta)
½ stick softened butter
2 eggs (room temperature and seperated)
½ lb ham (or any
1 c sour cream
1/8 tsp salt**
¼ tsp pepper**
¼ tsp nutmeg**
Preheat oven to 356°F. Prepare casserole dish by greasing with butter and sprinkling breadcrumbs until evenly coated. Boil pasta in salted water until al dente, drain, and let cool. Beat egg whites into stiff peaks and let stand. Cut ham into small cubes.
Beat butter until frothy, gradually add egg yokes; incorporate salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Add ham cubes, then drained pasta, and finally sour cream; mixing each addition well and taste.***
Fold stiffened egg whites into pasta mix carefully; taking care not to overmix and lose the fluffy texture. Pour mix into prepared dish, lightly smooth the surface, and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes (the surface should be crispy brown). Let cool and enjoy with a crisp salad!
Adapted from ‚Viennese Cuisine’ by Martina Hohenlohe
* Fleckerl is a traditional type of pasta found in Austria. If not available in your country, try breaking a flat, thin noodle (i.e. fettuccine, pappardelle) into small pieces prior to cooking it.
** Ms. Hohenlohe does not indicate spice measurements in her recipe. Depending on the type of ham used, less or more salt may be required. Start with a smaller amount of the spices and add more until satisfied.
***All tasting and additional seasoning must be done before adding the beaten egg whites. Too much manipulation after folding in the whites will destroy the bubbles of air creating the froth and hence, your dish. Don’t worry, egg whites have no flavor, so the taste will remain true even after adding them.
Schinkenfleckerl mit Salat – lecker!