Swiss Bacon & Gruyère Potatocake (Rösti)
This cosy little dish was a find on a trip to the Alps last winter. I was visiting Austria and Germany's South and there was massive snowfall in the area at the time - not too unusual. Anyways I found myself snowed into a little town at the base of Mt Untersberg - the cable car was down so I had to hang around. I stuck around a diner cabin most of the day to stay out of the cold and let my socks thaw out. The only hot food they served was 'röschti' (or 'rösti' as it later turned out to be spelled). I didn't know what it was, the girl behind the counter described it as 'potato'. How bad could it be?
Turned out not bad at all, in fact, far from it. It was half-way between being a hash brown, with crispy whiskers of grated potato, and a potato cake, with a soft, mashed potato-eque interior. I was cosied by this little plate of potato and I added it to my notes to look up back home. Fast forward to August the year after, I came across my notes from that trip and saw the scribbled 'röschti' along with ideas for how to give it a kick up the arse: bacon, mustard, cheese. They seemed like great ideas while I was snowed in on the Alps, and they still seem like great ideas during the British summer nevertheless.
These fritters are made from grated potato, much like hash browns, however the potatoes are partially cooked first. It's a simple step - peel the potatoes and boil them for just 10 minutes. This partial cooking charges the potatoes with moisture, which produce a crisp, hash brown-like exterior, but a fluffy potato interior to these fritters. I've marked them up, just like the Swiss and Alp-dwellers do, by adding smoked bacon lardons, wholegrain mustard and Swiss gruyere cheese. All together it makes an absolute knock-out breakfast dish, hence why a runny-yolked fried egg on top rounds it off perfectly for me. It's an excellent late-night dish with the allowance of a bit more cheese, and just about any other additions you feel like throwing into the mix!
SWISS POTATO RÖSTI
- 4 medium-sized potatoes (Maris-Piper, King Edward or Desiree Potatoes are great)
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1 tablespoon Plain Flour
- 2 teaspoons Wholegrain Mustard
- 100g Swiss Gruyére Cheese
- 100g Bacon Lardons or Smoked Bacon
- 50g Butter (for frying)
- 1 egg for topping (optional)
- Peel the potatoes and place them whole into a large pan of boiling, salted water. Boil for 10 minutes until softened on the outside, but still firm in the centre. Remove from the boil, drain them and leave them to sit in a pan of cold water to cool down.
- In the meantime, take your bacon lardons, or cut up slices of bacon, and fry them until nicely crisp before placing in a large mixing bowl.
- Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, take a grater and thickly-grate the potatoes until they're all shredded. Add the shreds and any random mushy bits into the mixing bowl with the cooked bacon.
- Add in a teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard, a tablespoon of flour and 100g of grated gruyère cheese and give everything a good mix and toss through with your hands.
- Preheat your grill to a high temperture. Take a large frying pan (ovenproof is ideal) and place it on as medium heat. Add a heaped tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil and allowed the butter to melt and sizzle. Take heaping handfuls of the shredded potato mixture and press it flat into the hot pan, forming a large fritter. Make sure there are no peeping holes in the middle of the fritter. Cook on a medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, pressing occasionally with your spatula to make sure it's nice and flattened.
- Have a peep under one corner of the rösti to see if it is brown enough and crisp. Once so, take the whole pan and place it under a hot grill to brown the top for about 5 minutes. Cooking it under grill this way is ideal, as the rösti is quite thick and fluffy in the centre and can break apart easily if you try and flip it with a spatula. Cooking the top-side under the grill is the best way of keeping it intact while it cooks.
- Once browned to your liking on top, serve the whole rösti on a plate with a runny-yolked fried egg on top. It goes well with brown sauce too as it happens. Enjoy one of the best creations of potatoes, bacon and cheese. The best comforts all in one!