Swiss rösti was originally a breakfast dish of peasants. Today, however, it served all over the world and even in high-end establishments.
What is rösti? Fried grated potatoes. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And so plain. How can rösti be so popular?
One explanation is that its very simplicity spells comfort food. Another explanation is that despite the basic cooking techniques and equipment required, making good rösti is not as simple as it seems. Hence, for cooks who want to get it just right, cooking rösti can be quite a challenge.
There is no singular formula for cooking exceptionally good Swiss rösti. Cooks are divided as to whether floury or waxy potatoes are best, if parboiling before grating yields better results and whether the grated potatoes should be fried in butter or duck fat. I’ve tried every possible combination and decided that the best formula is this:
1. Use waxy potatoes.
2. Parboil the potatoes before grating.
3. Use butter to fry the potatoes. Duck fat might yield a rösti with a crispier surface but there’s nothing like the flavor and aroma of butter.
Armed with those three tips, it’s not hard to cook rösti. After grating, fry in a pan liberally coated with butter.
Wait until the underside is browned and crisp then flip to brown the opposite side.
That simple? I won’t lie. Flipping can be a bitch. There are no binders added to the potatoes so flipping can be quite a challenge. That’s why you have to wait until the underside is crisp and firm enough before flipping.
And if flipping is not your thing, you can slide the half-cooked rösti to a plate then invert it back into the frying pan to cook the opposite side.
And if the rösti browns unevenly? Oh, yes, that can happen. Our stove’s heat is uneven (need to have the burners cleaned) so, as you can see, half of the rösti is more brown than the other half. How did I fix that?
When the rösti is firm on both sides, it is easier to flip it repeatedly. I flipped the rösti again and positioned the not-too-brown half on the side of the burner where the flame was higher.
So, how is rösti served? Well, think of it as the carb component of a meal. Serve it with fried egg, sausages, ham… whatever you like! You can serve the accompaniments on the side or scatter them on top of the rösti.
Crumbled feta, chopped smoky ham and juicy tomatoes on top of rösti make a lovely meal. Imagine having that for breakfast?
- 200 grams waxy potatoes
- 1 tablespoon rock salt
- 6 tablespoons butter
- Rinse and scrub the potatoes well.
- Place the potatoes in a pan. Cover with water. Add the salt. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes (less if the potatoes are small). Tip: When pierced with a knife, the center of the potatoes should still be firm and offer resistance.
- Drain the potatoes and cool to room temperature.
- Peel the potatoes then grate coarsely. Divide into two portions.
- Over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. Spread half of the grated potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the underside is browned and crisp.
- Using a wide spatula, flip the rösti to brown the opposite side.
- Repeat the last two steps to cook the remaining half of grated potatoes.
- Serve the rösti at once. You may top it with cheese, meat and vegetables.