The power of salt to season is nowhere clearer than when it graces hot, crisped potatoes. The best I’ve ever had were served to chef Edward Lee and me when we landed at The Hütte Swiss Restaurant after a roller-coaster ride down the two-lane-with-coal-trucks-roaring-by that leads into the tiny Swiss-Appalachian village of Helvetia, West Virginia. Giddy, we may have ordered everything on the lunch menu. All of it was good, but what we could not get enough of was the perfectly balanced crisp and tender, sublimely salted rösti.
This recipe is my homage. The secret is in the squeezing, essential for the quickly browned crust with tender potatoes inside. Oh … and maybe a little credit to the bacon grease. Serve this with “Clabber,” Chive, and Caper Tater Sauce and Honeyed Applesauce.
Reprinted from Victuals. Copyright © 2016 by Ronni Lundy. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Johnny Autry. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
ON-DEMAND: Listen to Faith and Ronni discuss this recipe on The Faith Middleton Food Schmooze®.
- 2 pounds russet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons bacon grease
- “Clabber,” Chive, and Caper Tater Sauce for serving (see headnote for recipe link)
- Peel the potatoes and grate them on the large holes of a box grater. Lift a handful of grated potatoes and squeeze it over a bowl or the sink to drain off as much liquid as possible. Drop the squeezed potatoes into a bowl and continue until all the potatoes are squeezed.
- Sprinkle the salt over the potatoes and add black pepper to your taste. I like a lot, some like less. Toss to distribute the seasoning.
- Place a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat and melt the bacon grease in it. It should cover the bottom of the pan, about 1/8 inch deep. When it begins to shimmer, flick a piece of grated potato into the hot grease. If it sizzles instantly, add the rest of the potatoes, a spatula or spoonful at a time. Do this gently as you don’t want the grease to bounce and burn you.
- When all the potatoes are in the pan, use the back of the spatula to gently press down and form them into a compact round “cake.”
- Cook until the underside is a deep, crispy brown and the top potatoes are turning translucent; this takes 10 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the potatoes while they are cooking and turn the heat down to keep them from burning, if needed. Conversely, if the top potatoes are translucent but the bottom is not crisply brown, turn the heat up a bit to quickly darken it.
- Gently move a spatula underneath the potato cake and around the skillet to loosen it, and then lift the whole cake, turn it over, and slide it back into the pan. (If this seems awkward, you can remove the cake to a large plate, place another plate over the top, and, holding the plates together, invert them, flipping the cake over. Then slide the cake, uncooked side down, back into the pan.)
- Cook the second side for 7 to 10 minutes, until brown and crisped. Remove the rösti from the pan, let it drain briefly on paper towels, and then serve it immediately on a warmed platter. Pass the “Clabber,” Chive, and Caper Tater Sauce.
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