February 15, 2008

Making it Right


It’s always interesting to hear how someone makes a dish that is considered a national specialty. When I try out recipes found online and in magazines and books I often wonder how authentic the recipe is or how much it has changed from its origins. I don’t necessarily mind the change if the end product still tastes good, but I wonder what someone who grew up on the stuff would think of the bastardization that has occurred. As I told you a couple days ago, while revealing too much about myself, I started Chef Training in January. Many of the comments on that post asked to know more about the experience, so here’s a little story for you. One of the chef’s is from Switzerland and as such has very firm beliefs about a dish that originated there, rösti, (many consider it a national dish). Let me back up even further and say that Chef Swiss has a very dry sense of humour that I find hilarious. He also has a habit of going off on tangents about topics that he really likes. Rösti is one of those topics. During a lecture on potatoes he got sidetracked with rösti and spent the next 15 minutes telling us exactly how it should be cooked. He was so passionate about it that I was convinced I had to try making it at home, and I did. So here’s my attempt at rösti, with Chef Swiss’s valuable nuggets of information thrown in.


To begin with, it’s pronounced Rrrrr-eush-ti. Roll the r, that o with the dots sounds like ‘eu’ and then add a ‘sh’ sound before the final ‘tea’. Chef Swiss had the whole class trying to roll their r’s and would simply sigh and shake his head in frustration when most of the class failed epically. Next, before he could explain how to properly make rösti, he had to emphasize what it was not.


What rösti is NOT:


-Hash browns

-Latkes

-Pancakes

-Pizza of any sort

-French fries

-Heavy and flat


And do NOT serve rösti with ketchup, (I think Chef Swiss thinks ketchup should be outlawed altogether, but it should especially never be served with rösti). Certain regions of Switzerland may opt to add bacon or onion to the grated potato or serve it with a bit of melted cheese or a fried egg on top but those are regional twists and the traditional rösti is just potato.

So without further ado, here is how you make rösti:



Boil potatoes in skin until tender. Remove from boiling water and cool overnight in the fridge. The next day, remove the potatoes from the fridge, peel them and grate coarsely with a box grater. While grating you must hold the grater above the bowl so that the potatoes fall lightly into the bowl. The potatoes are not to be smushed down by holding the grater against your counter or cutting board. Season the grated potatoes with salt and black pepper. No white pepper. No nutmeg.


Take a non stick pan and melt enough butter to coat the bottom. Drop the potatoes lightly into the pan and let slowly fry over medium heat while giving the pan a shake. Once the potatoes start to colour, you can shape the potatoes around the outside of the pan so that it’s a nice circular shape. Do not push down on the potatoes in the middle, they are to be light and fluffy. Once the potatoes start to dry out a bit, add little balls of butter around the edges and let it melt underneath. After about 10 minutes, when the bottom is browned and will hold together, flip the rösti over and once again add little butter balls around the edges of the pan and let them melt into the middle. The rösti is done when the outside is browned and crispy, but the middle remains soft, light and fluffy. Plate and serve as is.



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20 comments:

glamah16 said...

OhI havent had Rosti in years. Its so good.

Deborah said...

I learned something from this! I have actually never had rosti before, but I'm intrigued!

Jerry said...

Chef Swiss may not like hearing this, but that's almost exactly how I have made "hash-Browns" all my life ;)

Cheryl said...

I think I have heard of this recently. Sounds like an awesome breakfast.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I haven't made rrrrrrrosti in ages. This seems like the absolute foolproof recipe. Should suit me down to the ground. ;) Thanks for all the tips!

K & S said...

looks delicious :)

Alanna said...

I'm surprised he's not insisting that rrrrroooosttttttttti be eaten mountain-top after a long morning's hike and in sight of Heidi meadows of alpine flowers and happy Swiss cows which thus of course make the best chocolate and ice cream -- or at least recommending! I do!

Peter G said...

I'm going to bookmark this...delicious.

Babette said...

It's the Swiss version of Hash Browns. LOL *shhh*
I'll have to try that when I travel to Switzerland this summer. I will have to practice saying Rosti so I'll impress the waiter. ;)

Manggy said...

Hey, that looks yummy! I think I may try it one of these days-- but now I'm confused, what's a latke?

Tell Chef to leave ketchup alone. It's a harmless condiment made of all-natural ingredients. I mean, what's next, chutney? Mustard? Mayonnaise?

Annie said...

I had never heard of this before. Thanks for the lesson. Great story.

It looks fab!

Ellie said...

Oooh, these sound quite tasty, but anything involving potatoes and butter is bound to get my vote! I do find it interesting that there doesn't seem to be any binding agent to hold the potato together, but I guess that since they're already cooked, the frying holds them together!

Best of luck with the chef training, looking forward to what gems of wisdom you can impart ;)

Amy said...

Mmmm, these sound (and look) really tasty. Give me anything with a fried egg over it and I'll love it; but crispy browned potatoes?! Yum! Thanks for the detailed instructions.

Anonymous said...

You have no idea how amazing it was to scroll down through your recent posts and see that picture with the word Rosti underneath. I think my heart literally skipped a beat as I thought "Could she really be writing about Rosti!" It's a swiss tradition that has become a family tradition in our little swiss-american home, and it's great to hear that others are enjoying some Rosti.

Bellini Valli said...

These bring me back to my childhood when my mom would make these on her rotary grater. We are British but she sure made a mean roesti :D

eatme_delicious said...

This looks delicious! Interesting that you don't add anything to the potatoes.

ejm said...

Fascinating! I always thought that rrrrösti were made from grated raw potatoes! Please don't tell Chef Swiss that we recently had what we thought were rösti the other night. If you must divulge anything, you can snear and tell him about our faux rösti made by mandolining Yukon Golds, rinsing them to remove as much starch as possible, draining them and tossing them onto our cast iron grill with olive oil and butter and seasoning with only salt and pepper.

-Elizabeth

P.S. The authentic version sounds like hashbrowns to me too...
P.P.S. Ketchup should be outlawed - and not just from being served with rösti. Ketchup is revolting.

Peter M said...

Last week, I too finally got my rosti right and they are wonderful to eat, when made right...good show!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Please I love potato . . . these look like a dream come true.
Brilynn it's always fun when someone is so passionate about something like this.
Thanks for sharing this and I hope more to come!

mimi said...

oh my goodness. i know this comment is passed its prime. but i LOVE rosti!! mr. mimi made it for me years ago, and he wishes he didn't because i'm constantly wanting them with sunday breakfast. although i have to say, we don't boil our potatoes first. hmm.