Black Forest Bake | culture: the word on cheese
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Black Forest Bake

Black Forest Bake

Tracey Middlekauff
This hearty casserole uses spaetzle, a small, dumpling-like pasta popular in Germany and Austria that’s available in the international sections of many grocery stores. If you can’t find it, use Italian orecchiette pasta.



  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk room temperature
  • 1 cup light cream room temperature
  • cups Gorgonzola dolce cheese crumbled
  • Pinch white pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch salt


  • 9 ounces spaetzle
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot minced
  • 2 cups cooked Black forest ham cut into ½-inch cubes
  • cups packed Swiss chard leaves stems removed and chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmesan for topping
  • Black pepper to taste


  • SAUCE: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. When bubbling, add flour. Reduce heat slightly and cook, stirring, until roux is pale blonde and smells nutty. Slowly add milk and cream, whisking to incorporate. Run a rubber spatula around saucepan edges to remove any flour clumps. Bring to a gentle simmer, and cook 10 minutes or until thickened. Add Gorgonzola, pepper, nutmeg, and salt, stirring until cheese melts.
  • CASSEROLE: Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook spaetzle in well-salted boiling water in a large stockpot according to package instructions, until just shy of al dente. Drain, cover, and set aside.
  • In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter and sauté shallot until soft. Add ham and Swiss chard. Reduce heat slightly, cover, and cook until chard wilts. Pour off excess liquid, and combine ham and chard with sauce and cooked spaetzle.
  • Pour mixture into a lightly oiled 2-quart casserole dish and top with grated Parmesan and black pepper. Bake 35 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Photographer Mark Ferri

Mark Ferri is a graduate of Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. He believes in a simple, direct approach that captures the natural beauty and appetite appeal of food. Mark celebrates a life-long passion for food by frequently exploring new restaurants in New York and in Europe, and loves to cook and entertain at his home in the Hudson Valley. Learn more about Mark on his website:

Stylist Leslie Orlandini

Leslie Orlandini is a chef and an accomplished food stylist in print and television. She has been nominated for both James Beard and Emmy awards and is a veteran of thousands of cooking shows and segments. You can learn more about her through her website: