Start Your Week Off With This Giant Rösti Potato Cake

Start Your Week Off With This Giant Rösti Potato Cake

It’s rare that I’m not in the mood for potatoes. Even when perfectionist chefs and food blogs like to hate on “gluey” mashed potatoes, I look at that mound of burst starch molecules with only love. My latest spud obsession has been a three-ingredient masterpiece from Switzerland. It’s called rösti, and if you have potatoes, butter, and salt, you’re halfway there. 

What is rösti?

Rösti is a simple and hearty dish composed of grated, salted potatoes that are fried in a pan. If you’re thinking of potato latkes or crispy hash browns right now, you’re on the right track—but think bigger, and thicker. Rösti is a substantial cake of fluffy potato veiled in a crisp, butter-fried edge. It’s almost like a wink to the Spanish tortilla in shape, but straight-up potato business.

Rösti generally refers to fried potatoes in this cake-like shape, but surprisingly, there’s wiggle room in the texture. I’ve tasted rösti that has the texture of mashed potatoes inside, and ones composed of discernible, independent strands of firm potato. I don’t care what anyone says, both of those textures are perfect and delicious. 

This recipe below is a nice balance between the two textures I mentioned. The interior is soft, but not mashed, and you can still make out strands of the potato. The trick here is to boil the potatoes first. Hash browns or latkes might use raw shredded potatoes, but they’re much thinner; cooking those through requires less time. This cake is about an inch thick, and cooking that much raw potato without burning the outside is possible, but requires a lot more attention. Using cooked potatoes instead speeds up the frying time and allows you to prepare ahead of time. You can boil the potatoes the night before and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to rösti. 

How to make rösti

1. Boil and cool the potatoes

Add about four medium potatoes, skin on, to a pot. (Waxy potatoes will hold up best with this process, but you can make it work with starchy ones too.) Cover them with cool water and bring it up to a gentle boil. Boil the potatoes until a knife can be inserted to the center with little force, about 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse the potatoes in cold water to stop the cooking and put them in the fridge until chilled, at least two hours, but up to two days in advance. 

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

2. Shred them

Once the potatoes are cold, peel off the skins and shred them with the large holes on a box grater over a large bowl. You could use a food processor’s grating blade to do this, however I think it’s overkill for cooked potatoes. The machine might mash up the shreds a bit, so I recommend doing it manually. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt over the bowl of potatoes and gently toss them. Sprinkle a pinch more salt over the spuds and toss again. 

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

3. Fry the rösti

In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Swirl the pan to coat. Add the potatoes and gently form the mound into a thick cake. Fry the rösti for about 10 minutes to brown the bottom. If you see the edges are browning too quickly, bring the heat down. 

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

4. Flip it

Much like a Spanish tortilla, flipping is the hardest part. I like to use a large wooden cutting board for this, as I find plates are too slippery, the curved edge gets in the way, and I worry about the high heat of the cast iron against the glass glaze. 

Turn off the heat. Put a piece of foil over the potato cake in the skillet. (This will make sliding the cake back into the pan easier.) Put the cutting board over the skillet. Put one hand on top of the cutting board, and the other hand—with an oven mitt—under the bottom of the hot skillet. Flip the whole apparatus over in one swoop so the cutting board is now under the skillet. Place it on the countertop and return the skillet to the burner. 

Add two more tablespoons of butter to the pan to melt. Use a spatula to slide the rösti back into the skillet—it’s OK if it isn’t perfect. Turn the heat back onto medium-low and fry the other side for another eight to 10 minutes, or until nicely browned.  

Using the same technique as before, flip the potato rösti out onto a wire rack backed by the same cutting board. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy your crisp and tender rösti as a side dish for a hearty roast, or as a sizable platform for a pair of runny-yolk eggs. 

Potato Rösti Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

1. Add the potatoes, skin on, to a pot. Cover them with cool water and boil the potatoes for about 20 to 30 minutes, until knife-tender. Rinse the potatoes in cold water, and put them in the fridge until chilled.

2. Peel the cold potatoes and shred them with the large holes on a box grater over a large bowl. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt over the bowl of potatoes and gently toss them. Sprinkle the last quarter teaspoon over the potatoes.

3. In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and gently form the mound into a thick cake. Fry until the bottom becomes golden brown, about 10 minutes. 

4. Flip the rösti onto a cutting board and add two more tablespoons of butter to the pan. Slide the cake back into the pan to fry the other side for another eight to 10 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. 


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