Rösti (RAW-stee) Potatoes are a classic fried potato preparation from the German-speaking region of Switzerland. Originally a breakfast dish commonly eaten by farmers, this savory potato pancake has many creative adaptations. In the Swiss mountains, Rösti usually comes with a fried egg, bacon/speck, and/or cheese. At a Swiss restaurant, Rösti is often served with sliced veal in a cream sauce.
At home, young folks most often eat Rösti plain with ketchup. I’ve enjoyed it for supper with a mushroom cream sauce and wilted greens, or for lunch, with a side salad and applesauce. The beauty of this comfort food is that it can be relished with anything that goes well with potatoes.
Many recipes call for parboiling the potatoes, allowing them to cool and then grating them. I’ve decided to skip this step. To peel or not to peel is a personal choice. We don’t mind the skins in our pancake, but purists may prefer a pancake without the flecks of brown. Grating unpeeled potatoes can be messy, and a food processor comes in wicked handy.
Once grated, season your potatoes with salt and pepper, and toss them in a large bowl. Add some chopped pepper, onion, or freshly chopped herbs. This is where the chef’s creativity and family preferences rule.
The grated potatoes are then packed in a cast iron skillet or roasting pan. You can cook them on a stovetop and flip them, or roast them in a hot oven. Traditionally, Rösti Potatoes are just the pancake. By stuffing the middle with cheese and smoked meat, this becomes a delicious casserole that can be prepared in advance. My high school culinary students recently served 150 folks Rösti Potatoes as part of a festive holiday meal.
Imagine hiking up a majestic mountain trail, enjoying the snow softly falling and clinging to the branches of pointed firs. Rounding a corner, you spy a curly wisp of smoke rising from an A-framed chalet. Stepping inside, you’re greeted with a rush of warm air and the ambrosial fragrance of hot food.
Savoring a crisp and golden plate of Rösti potatoes is a heady and intoxicating experience, an experience that should be shared. This holiday season I encourage you to share the joy of comfort food, and serve up some Rösti Maine Potatoes.
- 3 pounds potatoes
- ¼ cup chopped onion or scallions
- 1 sweet red pepper chopped
- Sea salt and fresh pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil or butter
- 3 ounces chopped smoked turkey or ham about 2/3 cup
- ½ cup grated Cheddar or Swiss cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 10-inch deep pie plate or cast iron skillet evenly with a thin layer of olive oil or butter.
- Scrub the potatoes, and peel them if desired. Grate the potatoes using a hand grater or food processor into a large bowl. Add the chopped onions or scallions and chopped sweet bell pepper. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper.
- Spread about ½ the potatoes in the bottom of the greased pan. Sprinkle the cheese and smoked meat evenly over the top. Add the remaining potatoes, pressing them firmly into the pan. Brush some olive oil or butter over the top. Bake until the underside is golden and the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
- To serve, loosen the edges of the Rösti with a thin knife or spatula. Shake the pan to be sure the cake is free, then invert onto a serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes 6 servings.