Rösti (Swiss potato cake)

potato rösti-10

The longer I´ve lived in France, the more I dive into the delightful ocean that is French cuisine, but the more I also rediscover the gems of German cooking. The dishes from home didn´t play a big role in my kitchen for quite some time, not out of dislike, but rather because I was (and continue to be) so eager to learn everything I can about French cooking that oftentimes there aren´t nearly enough meals per day to make everything I have in mind.  In my defense (not that anyone had accused me) I might add that from this blog´s early days I´ve made some effort to include a few German favorites every once in a while, even though I didn´t always refer to the term ´German cooking´ in the most geographically precise way. But at least I ´ve never been all cheating: Kaiserschmarrn, for instance, comes from Austria, but it´s safe to say Bavarian emperor (Kaiser) Franz had something to do with it, too. The cradle of Guglhupf, a sweet yeasted cake baked in a tubed mould, stands in the Alsacian region of France, or as others claim in the court of Versailles, but to me, it simply  “belongs” to my German great aunt because hers was the best Guglhupf I´ve ever had (and I´ve grown up very close to Alsace anyway).

Rösti, in contrast, wasn´t a staple in her repertoire, though I actually wonder why not given how good it is. Made of nothing but grated potatoes, it originates from Switzerland, but over time has found its way on so many Southern German plates I dare say it deserves both culinary passports. You may imagine Rösti as the sibling of potatoes Anna, the French version of a potato “cake”, but requiring less work: no thorough layering of potato slices, no finish in the oven. In Switzerland, Rösti  – derived by the word “rösten” which means to roast, to fry – is very popular served with veal stew and mushroom sauce,  but I find it goes with quite anything, particularly with duck magrets. In fact, it even goes with nothing but a handful of persillade (garlic and parsley). I like to fry it in duck fat, but clarified butter works as well. The key is to be patient and not flip the cake over until it starts to loosen from the bottom of the pan, then you´ll be rewarded with a golden galette of grated potatoes, crisp on the outside, tender and “fondant” on the inside.

potato rösti-11

Potato rösti (for 2-4 people as a side):
2-4 large potatoes (650 g)
1 scant tsp fine salt
a dash of freshly ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp dried or fresh thyme
3-4 tbsp duck fat or clarified butter for frying

3 garlic cloves, sliced, and a small handful of chopped parsley to serve

cooking time: 25-30 minutes

Use large, rather starchy potatoes for this recipe. ‘Place a clean cloth/ kitchen towel over a bowl. Peel potatoes, and coarsely grate them onto the cloth. Squeeze out any excess water from the potatoes. Place potatoes in the bowl, season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme, mix well.

In a heavy medium sized pan, heat 2 tbsp duck fat over medium heat. Add potatoes to the pan, shaping them to one single galette of about 2cm thickness that entirely fits the bottom of the pan. Fry for about 13 minutes over medium heat, or until the Rösti is golden from one side and loosens from the bottom of the pan (you may need to “help” it quite carefully with the pancake turner).

Make sure nothing sticks. Now place a large serving plate on top of your pan, flip it over, and set the rest aside for a moment. Add another tbsp of fat to the pan. Gently slide the rösti back into the pan, and continue to fry for another 10-12 minutes, or until golden from both sides. Slightly reduce heat if necessary – if it browns too fast, the potatoes will be undercooked in the center. Another tablespoon of fat might be a good idea for the last 5-6 minutes or so.

When almost ready, heat a little olive oil in a second (small) pan, gently fry sliced garlic until fragrant and lightly browned. Add a handful of chopped parsley, toss with the garlic for just 30 seconds or so.

Place rösti on a serving plate, decorate with the garlic-parsley-mixture (or just plain parsley) and serve immediately.

 

 

16 Comments

  1. I adore Rösti but have never made it. There used to be the most wonderful eatery by the Thames in Oxfordshire called The Beetle and Wedge (which refers not to an insect but a wooden tool used by carpenters of old) where Richard, the owner served sizzling Rösti with all his main dishes. I think he is responsible for converting most of the population of South Oxfordshire plus the hoards that came out of Oxford and London to eat by the River at its most languid and mesmerising over the decades that he held court there. But I have never ever made it. How on earth is that? Thank you for giving me the nudge to redress that balance. And I promise I will be patient with it in order to achieve optimum crispy vs fondant balance. 😊

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      1. I’m a storyteller for a reason 😉 I know I’ll enjoy the recette … I have done a few of yours now and they are always beyond delicious (though my presentation is not as advanced as yours, it must be said!!)

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  2. I remember the day well when I had Rosti for the first time. We were in a village in Switzerland, with one hotel, one restaurant, and one road. There was a beautiful creek nearby, beautiful cows grazing, and a Bernese Mountain dog, my favorite dog breed, walking around being friendly. We were eating outside and the rosti was fabulous, of course. I made one for my blog but it didn’t photograph as well as yours. It’s funny what the Europeans can do with potatoes, like rosti, gnocchi and tartiflette!

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    1. What fond memories of Switzerland, Mimi! I´ve been there for a few months during my time as a medical student, but at the time, eating out in restaurants wasn´t much of an option, really….As I´m a big potato fan, I also love gnocchi, but haven´t tried tartiflette so far. In Germany, we have great dumplings made of potatoes (in my family, we call them “snow balls”), seasoned with just salt, nutmeg & parsley , a staple around Christmas. I´m getting hungry just writing about them….
      have a great week, Mimi!!

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  3. Perfekt! I love a good Rösti. The fun begins when you check out the differences between, say, a Berner Rösti and one from the Emmental. I have seen Swiss folks fight over this. 🙂

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    1. Oh yes, Alex, I can imagine that. Same as Swabians disputing over Spätzle vs Knöpfle egg noodles (my husband comes from Swabia, so I consider myself entitled to make that joke ;-)!

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  4. Hi Sabine this Rosti looks so delicious! I’ve never made one at home but frequently buy them at the market for breakfast, with an egg and tomato relish. Not sure if that’s traditional but (as you say) they go with everything and they always taste so good.

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  5. I love Rösti and yours looks like perfection. I must search out a source for duck fat as I know it will add such great flavor to the potatoes.

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    1. Thank you, Karen! Duck fat is wonderful, right? I always save some when I make duck magrets, but in France it´s also sold in jars which makes things very easy.

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      1. One of the many pleasures of living in France, I’m sure. Although a part of my heart will always belong to Germany…hopefully heading back this fall.

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