If you have never tasted this exquisite Swiss version of home-fried potatoes, you are in for a real treat. Cooked potatoes are peeled and grated, then cooked in butter to form a golden round cake, something like a frittata, but made only from potatoes. Endless arguments exist about the right potato, the right pan and the right amount of cooking. I learned to make Roesti like this during my apprenticeship in Switzerland almost 40 years ago and the method has not changed in all that time.
Roesti are the classic accompaniment to a Bratwurst or other cooked sausage and also form an integral part of the famous Zurich Geschnetzeltes – shredded veal in a mushroom cream sauce. They are perfect with grilled meats of all kinds and make a great brunch dish topped with a couple of fried eggs. Some cooks like to add herbs or dices of cooked bacon to the Roesti, though I have to say I like mine best when they are left plain and the excellent potato flavor is not clouded by anything else.
Remember to start the day before if you want Roesti early in the day, or early in the morning if preparing them for dinner.
The version here is one I recently saw made and tasted at the Zunft zur Waag (Guildhall of the Scales) in Zurich. Chef Alain Koenig delegates this preparation to Isabel Iten, the restaurant’s resident Roesti expert.
Makes 2 generous servings
1 1/4 pounds flavorful boiling potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
4 tablespoons butter
One non-stick sloping-sided sauté pan, about 8 or 9 inches in diameter
- Early in the day, or the day before, place the potatoes in a pot with a cover just large enough to hold them and cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring slowly to a boil uncovered over low heat and allow to boil about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover pan and allow potatoes to cool in the water.
- After the potatoes have cooled, remove them from the water and leave them at a cool room temperature until ready to make the Roesti.
- Peel the potatoes and remove all blemishes and eyes. Grate them on the coarse side of a box grater into a shallow bowl. Sprinkle the shredded potatoes with salt and gently fold through with a rubber spatula to distribute it evenly.
- Melt half the butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the potatoes and gently press them into a round cake, conforming to the shape of the pan. Allow to cook about 5 minutes, or until you can use a spatula to lift a side of the cake and see that it is an even deep golden color.
- Remove the pan from the heat and put on some oven mitts. Cover the pan with a plate and invert the Roesti onto the plate. Set aside for a moment while you return the pan to the heat and melt the remaining butter. Slide the Roesti back into the pan and cook another five minutes, or until well browned on the other side.
- Invert the Roesti to a plate so the hot side is uppermost and serve immediately.