You’ll read some tremendously complicated recipes for rosti, involving time-consuming methods like par-boiling and cooling before you grate, quick spells in the freezer, wrapping the grated potato in a tea towel and whirling it around your head in the garden, and so on. There’s none of that in this recipe, which is extremely easy.
There’s some dispute surrounding the boiling issue – it’s true that a par-boiled potato will make your rösti absorb sauces a little better. I’ve tried both methods and have found the difference to be minute. The raw potato method is faster and results in a deliciously crisp surface, giving to the pressure of your teeth like a thin layer of ice. The potato inside is soft and yielding – delicious.
Ashkenazi Jewish latkes are a similar kind of potato cake (without bacon, for obvious reasons). Recipes for latkes and other Hannukah foods abound in Evelyn Rose’s books – I’ve just managed to find a second-hand copy of the Entertaining Cookbook at an online bookstore for a quarter of the shudder-inducing price I’d been quoted elsewhere, so look forward to some recipes from it when it finally makes its tortured way through the Royal Mail.
I used Kestrel potatoes for these rösti. Kestrel are easy to grow in the garden, and have an excellent flavour. Be careful that whichever variety of potato you choose is a waxy-fleshed one. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of starchy liquid that comes out of your squeezed potato – you will get more than a mugful from 500g.
To serve four as an accompaniment, you’ll need:
500g Kestrel potatoes, peeled
4 rashers of bacon, chopped finely
1 small onion
3 tablespoons goose or duck fat (you can use any cooking fat with a good flavour, but goose or duck fat does create a particularly crisp surface. Bacon fat would be excellent in this, as would schmaltz.)
Salt and pepper
Grate the potatoes and onion finely. You can do this by hand, or in a food processor with a grating blade. Squeeze the grated potato and onion out, handful by handful, into a bowl and discard the juices. Mix in a large bowl with the bacon, and season.
Melt half the goose fat in a large, non-stick frying pan over a high flame, and add the grated mixture when the fat is sizzling hot. Pack the potatoes down into the pan firmly to create a dense cake, and turn the hob down to a medium heat for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, you’ll notice a change in the shreds of potato on the surface, which will now be transluscent and glossy. Take a large dinner plate and, using oven gloves, place it upside down on top of the frying pan. Turn the pan and plate arrangement upside down, so the rösti is neatly turned out onto the plate. Melt the rest of the fat in the pan, slide the rösti back in (the cooked side will be facing you) and leave for another 20 minutes.
This was delicious with a roast chicken, soaking up the buttery juices beautifully. Experiment with your rösti – try adding a grated apple, cheese, or fresh herbs. If there are only two of you, try making this larger amount and eat the remainder cold for lunch the next day.