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July 31, 2010

Today I squeezed in a couple hours of walking… okay, so it was more like my sister and I went for a walk in the woods and got lost for two hours, but hey! The fact remains: we did a lot of walking. So there. The crunches were crunched as well, of course, and I stayed on the straight and narrow with my healthy eating all day. Dinner presented a slight challenge as my dad had finally decided to show me how to make hackplätzli (I had been bugging him for weeks to teach me how he makes them). Hackplätzli is a simple, homey Swiss dish that lies somewhere between a meatball and a small burger patty. It’s soft and juicy on the inside with a satisfyingly crisp exterior. Bugger.

I’ve loved my dad’s hackplätzlis since I was a little girl and his ones taste better to me than anyone else’s… for the same reasons, I suppose, as he has for finding his mum’s hackplätzlis unrivalled to this day. Food has always been an emotional experience for me and moments in the kitchen with my dad are always a joy – even when, on the rare occasion, I find that I disagree with his methods or principles. Between my mum and dad there is a wealth of cooking experience and knowledge that I would be an idiot not to draw from. We get to stand on neutral territory while we discuss something we’re all passionate about and I get to learn a new dish/skill/technique whilst hearing their stories and memories of it.

Did I learn to make them and then not eat them? Of course not, don’t be ridiculous! Thankfully we had them with beetroot salad and green beans. My dad’s been known to serve them topped with melted cheese or bathed in delectable creamy sauces. Bullet. Dodged.

(Well, kind of).

HACKPLÄTZLI for 4-6 people (makes about 24)


400g minced beef

400g minced pork

1-1.5 large onions, finely chopped

3 slices of old bread (1.5 cm thick and palm-sized), with crust removed and cut into rough 1.5cm x 1.5cm cubes

250 – 300ml milk

1 large egg

parsley, finely chopped

marjoram, finely chopped

a large handful of dried breadcrumbs


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put aside a large plate, a small bowl and 2-3 sheets of baking paper (roughly the size of the plate).

2. On a low to medium heat, sweat the onions until translucent. Set aside.

3. Add half the milk to the cubed bread to soften them. Knead the two together until the mixture is smooth, adding milk as needed. The mixture should be wet with almost all the milk incorporated into the bread.

4. Combine all the ingredients except for the dried breadcrumbs. Season well.

5. Add roughly half of the dried breadcrumbs; less if the mixture is on the dry side, more if it is too wet. The mixture should be smooth and not sticky. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs into the small bowl.

6. Form small balls in the palms of your hands, then flatten to make disks roughly 1-1.5 cm in height and 5cm in width.

7. Place a patty in the small bowl and gently flip it through the breadcrumbs until very lightly coated. Repeat with the remaining patties, placing them on the large plate once coated and separating the layers with the baking paper.

8. At this point, the hackplätzlis can be covered and kept in the fridge (or even frozen if desired).

9. To cook the hackplätzlis, panfry until dark golden brown (not burned!) and crisp. Place them in the oven for 5-10 minutes, as needed.

These are traditional hackplätzlis and they are de-li-cious, but there’s no reason you couldn’t add other herbs, some garlic, etc if you wanted to. I don’t think they need to be served with anything else beyond maybe some lemon or some mustard (either Swiss or dijon), but we often had this at home with a creamy sauce (mushroom, pepper, white wine) and either mashed potatoes, buttered pasta or rice (the latter obviously not being the norm in Switzerland!).

However you choose to have them, I hope you enjoy!



2 Comments leave one →
  1. Peggy permalink
    September 28, 2010 19:17

    Thank you for this! As an Uslandschwiizer these recipes, together with lovely stories from back home always warm the heart and this case the tummy too! :D

    • October 1, 2010 11:16

      Hi Peggy,

      Thanks for the comment :) There’s nothing like comfort food from home, is there? Sigh… :) Yum, yum, and more yum!

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