Last winter we drove up to Madison, Wisconsin, with our friends Katie and Justin. Winter had us all feeling a little shack-nasty* and we thought a trip out of town might do us good. On the way home from Madison we stopped in New Glarus, a town famous for its brewery and weird alpine architecture. The brewery is fantastic, and totally worth a stop (though admittedly is more fun in the summer when you can sit outside drinking beer). And New Glarus is a charming enough place to spend a few hours. The bakery in town is pretty great and I always pick up a few pastries for the drive home. We had dinner at one of the several touristy Swiss-themed restaurants in town. It was as expected, huge portions and lots of fat, but also pretty satisfying. Among the things we ate was a giant potato rösti. As delicious as it was, about three bites in I felt defeated by the amount of fat (butter and cheese) in the dish. But I’ve been thinking about the potential.
There was a recipe for rösti in a recent issue of Saveur. It was light on the fat and heavy on the potato and sounded delicious. It tasted even better. The crisp crust of potato yields to a smooth and creamy interior. It was so delicious that sitting here writing about it has prompted me to scheme about making this for dinner tonight. It was perfect as is, but I really loved it served with some sour cream and scallions. We ate this with a big salad. It is something that I plan on making a lot of this winter.
This is a good recipe for right now, when, if you are anything like me, you’re in need of some comfort food. It is going to be a long night, friends. Eat up.
*Shack-nasty is a term I picked up from my friend Molly years ago. Synonym: cabin fever. Anyone else come across it used this way? I love it.
Rösti (from Saveur)
- 2¼ pounds russet potatoes (about 3 large)
- 2 tablespoons lard or unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain potatoes, and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Peel potatoes, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Grate potatoes using the large holes on a cheese grater; set aside.
Heat lard and oil in an 8″ nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When lard has melted, add potatoes, sprinkle with salt, and mix well, coating potatoes with fat. [NOTE: this seems physically impossible to me. I poured the melted butter/oil, and salt over the grated potatoes in bowl and mixed before transferring to a pan. How can you toss this huge amount of potatoes and oil in an 8-inch pan?! C'est impossible, Saveur!] Using a metal spatula, gently press potatoes, molding them to fit the skillet. Cook, shaking skillet occasionally, until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Cover skillet with a large inverted plate, invert the rösti over onto plate, then slide it back into the skillet, cooked side up; cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, sprinkle with salt, and cut into wedges to serve. [optional: serve with sour cream and scallions]
*** Yes, it is a lot of salt. But potatoes need a lot of salt. You can adjust, but this seemed right to me.
***People have argued in favor of a rösti made with raw potatoes. I have tried and it is not as good. It is really worth the effort of pre-cooking the potatoes.