Switzerland’s national dish might sound simple but getting a Rösti just right is tricky business
For a meal that pretty much consists of potato, onion and a bit of seasoning, there are an endless number of variations to the Rösti. Every website, food blog and magazine has a different method. Should the potatoes be grated raw or pre-boiled? Should onion be added or not? Should they be thin and crispy or thick and dense… and that’s without even touching on the tricky subject of toppings.
On a recent trip to Mürren, in the Bernese Oberland, I finally experienced the perfect Rösti. It was at the Restaurant Winteregg, which should be visited for its commanding views of the Mönch, Eiger and Jungfrau alone. I’d always thought of Rösti as being crisp and pancake-like. This one, though, was more like a loose collection of buttery potato, with each individual strand of grated spud still visible. Parts of it were crisp, parts of it were melt-in-the-mouth soft. The contrast in textures was as good as the flavour. Served with a silky-yolked fried egg and smoky rashers of bacon it was the lunch of alpine dreams. I had to recreate it.
It took me a few attempts to get it right, but my experiments paid off, and I managed to create this very rustic interpretation of Rösti back in my kitchen. The first trick is choosing the right potato. Only a floury one will hold together the right way. Consider Desiree, King Edward or Maris Piper varieties. The second trick is to pre-boil the spuds and then leave them to cool overnight (or at least until the potatoes are cold all the way through) before grating. If they are still warm they have a kind of gluey texture which is a nightmare to work with.
Finally, comes the cooking. A really good non-stick pan is crucial, or else the crispy bits just get welded to the frying pan. Also, for the first few minutes of cooking, you need to stir the potato – don’t immediately squash it down into a pancake shape. Only let it sit once all the potato strands are warmed through – it creates a much looser texture and better flavour throughout the dish.
For toppings, get creative as you want. The Swiss will throw anything from cheese to smoked salmon on top, though I still think bacon and eggs are best.
Ingredients– 1kg potatoes (floury)
– 1 onion, diced
– Knob or two of butter
– Salt and pepper
– Fried or poached eggs and bacon (to serve, optional)
Directions1. Boil the potatoes (whole) until just cooked through. Leave to cool for at least two hours
2. Peel the skin off and grate them with the coarse side of a grater. Add to bowl and stir in the diced onion and seasoning
3. Add a knob of butter to a non-stick frying pan and heat until melted and bubbling
4. Add the grated potato and gentle stir until warmed through (about five minutes)
5. Using a spatula press the potato down into a pancake and fry until the bottom side is crispy
6. Using a plate if necessary, flip the Rösti and continue to cook the other side
7. Once both sides are crisp, top with egg and cooked bacon and serve