Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rosti -- Is It Worth the Trouble?

I think we all have default recipes. The ones we rely on because they never fail. Everyone likes them, and we've made them so often that they're no-brainers. For me, mashed potatoes have been a consistent winner, but I've been looking at other potato recipes and ran across rosti, which my mother used to make when I was a kid.

While some think it's a German dish, it's actually Swiss, and quite old. Think of it as a slightly more sophisticated cousin of hash browns, or a relative of the potato pancake. It's deliciously crunchy on the outside and soothingly soft on the inside. Like a lot of recipes that have been around for a long time, there are too many variations to count. Some people recommend par-boiling the potatoes, some cook the potatoes before shredding, and some use them raw. You can add all sorts of interesting things like cheese, onions, or zucchini, but I love a plain, basic rosti.

A basic rosti contains only potatoes, salt, and pepper. Sounds simple, but a rosti can be tricky. It takes a little tweaking to get it right. I've come to the conclusion that the difficulties lie in the temperature at which it cooks, and the thickness of the rosti.

I'm far too lazy to cook the potatoes first, so I use raw Idaho potatoes. Most recipes call for a volume, like a pound. For me, that turned out to be three small Idaho potatoes. Yellow Yukons should work well, too. Hint Number One: Don't use too many potatoes. The rosti should only be about half an inch thick.

The second potential pitfall is temperature. Hint Number Two: The rosti has to be started at the low side of moderate heat and then cooked over moderately low heat. On my stove "6" is the middle heat temperature. I start the rosti at 5 and immediately turn it down to 3.5, which is a fairly low temp. If you have a non-stick pan that can brown food, it might be a good choice for this dish, but you'll probably have to change the temperatures and times a bit. I use a plain skillet.

1 10-inch skillet

1 pound potatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Peel the potatoes and shred them. I zip them through a food processor in seconds.

2. Place the raw potatoes in a bowl and add the salt and pepper. (3/4 teaspoon of salt works well for me, though you may prefer more or less salt) Toss with two forks to distribute.

3. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil over moderate heat.

4. When the foaming stops, add the potatoes, spread, and press flat.

5. Turn the heat down to moderately low, and let cook about 10 minutes.

6. Slide a spatula underneath the potatoes to loosen, place a dinner plate over the pan, and flip to remove the rosti from the pan.

At this point, if there are remaining bits in the pan, take a minute to scrape them out or to wash the pan so they won't burn when you cook the other side.

7. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. When the foaming stops, slide the rosti back into the pan and cook over moderately low heat for 10-12 minutes or until cooked through.

8. Slide out of the pan and onto a plate. Cut in fourths to serve.

Warning! This should serve four. However, it's usually so good that two can easily eat it. And when I left the kitchen briefly the other night, a certain dog, who will not be named, proved that one rosti is the right size for a 110 pound dog. He thought it was well worth the trouble and so do I. Don't be discouraged if it's not perfect the first time. Once you get the hang of it, a rosti is a no-brainer!


  1. I'm not familiar with rosti, but it looks absolutely delicious! I'm a potato nut anyway, and always looking for new things to do with potatoes. Thanks, Krista!


  2. I'm with you and Elizabeth - I really love potato dishes. These tips are really helpful. The technique of taking the rosti out of the pan, adding a bit more butter and oil and flipping it has got to be a genius idea. I've never done it this way and I can see this is exactly how to get the pancake crispy on both sides and cooked through on the inside. Cannot wait to try. Thank you for another wonderful Domestic Diva recipe!

    "Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. Oh, Krista! Sounds terrific. I'll have to try this one. Thanks. And, like Cleo, I appreciate the tips.

  4. I've never heard of Rosti, Krista, but I can't wait to try this out. Mmm...

    By the way, I served your Grilled Bread to friends the other night. Everyone loved it and it was so easy!

    Thanks, Krista!

  5. This is how my mom made what she called just plain old hash browns. It *is* tricky, I have problems getting the right balance of crispy on the outside, smooth on the inside without the inside being still raw. I think my heat is too high, I'm going to try it with your directions. Thanks, Krista!

  6. Elizabeth and Cleo, it's good to know I'm not the only one looking for new ways to prepare potatoes.

    Lesa and Cleo, I love getting those little tips that make all the difference. And this recipe really can be tricky -- but oh, so worth it!

    Julie, I'm thrilled that your friends liked the Grilled Bread! My friends always snarf it up.

    Shel, I hope it helps when you lower the heat. Hash browns or rosti -- no matter what you call it -- it's delicious!

  7. I'm sure I would have to make at least 2 of these for my family of four. That is, as long as I can keep my dog away from it too!

  8. Sounds really good. Think we'll try it and serve it with the ribs in yesterday's post. My husband can be working on the ribs and I'll try my hand at Rosti.

  9. Wow--these look so good. My stomach is making a suggestion that I fix this tonight--and I think I must! YUM!

  10. Sounds great! Could it be served with Chichen Hotchpot?

    These would hold me till latke season. Very good instructions in the recipe. Thaks

  11. Okay, this has nothing to do with potatoes (though I plan to try this recipe! I live in Idaho, for heaven sakes! haha) but a comment on earlier recipies, just tried this week.
    Both county and state fairs are over now and my 4-H grandkids always like to deliver treats to the folks who buy their animals. So we delivered Banana bars to the gal who bought two lambs (btw, I baked them in a 9X13 pan as 9X9 seemed more like a cake than a bar. Turned out well!), Tinkerbells to the gal who bought 8 rabbits and Cuppa Joe Mocha Drops to the man who bought a pig. Double recipies were made so the family could try some, too, and all got rave reviews!!!
    You all will probably read this blog, but I'm going to copy and paste on each one to be sure you each get your just due. Yum and thanks.

  12. This what we have always called fried potatoes. My grandfather had these at least 3 or 4 times a week when I was a kid. The potatoes were always cooked in this ancient cast iron pan that sat on the stove at my grandparents home.

    I have had the worst time trying to replicate them, and now I know why, too high of heat!

    What a wonderful memory to relive. I'll be making some this weekend.