Rosti potatoes are a Swiss potato preparation that falls somewhere between a potato pancake and hash browns. Cooking potatoes rosti-style involves frying grated potato pieces in a skillet, essentially creating a cake that fills the pan. It must be flipped once or twice during cooking in order to achieve a crisp, golden crust all the way around. Rosti potatoes are usually served cut into wedges and are popular throughout Switzerland as a breakfast food.
The most basic rosti potato recipe calls for little more than shredded potatoes, butter or oil, and a bit of salt. Skillet cooking is the most traditional means of preparation. In a skillet, the walls form a sort of mold, shaping the rosti into a perfect round. Rosti potatoes can be made on a hot griddle or baked in a pan, as well, but the shape is much less consistent with either of these options. One of the characteristic features of rosti potatoes is the clean, rounded shape that makes for a neat presentation.
Though rosti potatoes are a simple dish, they take a bit of time and attention. Cooks must be vigilant over the temperature, and must take care to flip the potatoes once they crisp on the bottom. This usually takes at least 10 minutes, but can be longer depending on the moisture level of the potato shreds, as well as the overall thickness of the rosti. The idea is to end up with a large potato “cake” that is browned on all sides, but is still soft in the middle.
One of the most traditional times to serve rosti potatoes is at breakfast, with a wedge cut for each person. Wedges are often served alongside sausage or other meats, as well as cheeses. The neutral flavor of the potato makes it an easy accompaniment to a range of different foods.
Innovation is common with these potato dishes, and different Swiss regions are known for different twists. Many cooks add sliced onion or shredded leeks to the potato, for instance. It is also common to melt a bit of cheese on top of the rosti as it finishes cooking.
An easy way to innovate with a rosti dish is to experiment with different potato varieties. There are many types of potato from which to choose. The most traditional preparations use the smaller yellow potato variety grown in central Europe, but red potatoes, fingerling potatoes, or the larger russet varieties will also work.
Rosti potatoes are not limited to breakfast, either. The dish is an easy and flexible base for a range of potato meals. Topped with egg and paired with salad, it makes an excellent brunch or light dinner, for instance. It can also be served alongside steak or other red meat with great success.