By Angela Denstad Stigeler
If you’ve ever pondered the curious lack of major holidays in the month of August, here’s one you might like to add to your repertoire: the first of August is celebrated as Swiss National Day in honor of the alliance of the cantons which established the Swiss confederation back in 1291. And since everyone the world over loves a celebration, why not use the occasion as a great time to indulge in Swiss food?
Though most of us think of fondue and chocolate and all those rich and wonderful Swiss dairy products, there are many beloved Swiss dishes that rely on much more humble ingredients. Rösti (pronounced “raush-dee”) is a classic example of this and is considered by many as Switzerland’s national dish. It’s a delicious grated potato cake, requiring little more than salt, some good butter and the proper technique. Most importantly, when you want to make a rösti, remember to cook your potatoes in advance. The potatoes should be boiled whole and unpeeled in salted water until just barely tender. That way, when you grate them, they will maintain their shape and achieve the right texture in the final cake.
So whether you feel like a celebration or a simple satisfying meal, grated potatoes make for a great day.
Rösti (Swiss Potato Cake)
1 pound whole potatoes, unpeeled (about 2 large)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
Parboil the potatoes in salted water until just tender, but not soft. Allow to cool, and chill for at least a couple of hours or overnight.
Coarsely grate the potatoes and season with salt and pepper, tossing gently to incorporate. Heat half the butter in a medium-sized, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat until sizzling. Add the grated potato, allow it to cook for a couple of minutes and then shape it into a flat cake, pressing down as lightly as possible. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, then gently shake the pan to loosen the potato.
Continue to cook for about 10 minutes until golden and crisp, then place a plate on top of the pan and invert it so the cake sits, cooked-side up, on the plate. Add the rest of the butter to the pan and, when hot, slide the potato cake back into the pan the other way up. Cook for another 10 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.