The humble spud is a truly wonderful thing. A staple of comfort food across European cuisines, since the Spanish found it in South America and brought it home in the 16th century, it’s a delight to eat and virtually idiot-proof to cook.

It’s also very easy to make ‘special’. Tonight on the menu we had a Franco-Swiss feast, steak bearnaise served with green runner beans and potato roesti – a Swiss national treasure.

Making roesti is a little labour intensive but the crispy delights are well worth it. Gluttonous husband has developed a technique that is, perhaps, not exactly traditional, but results in a lovely side dish (that basically can be eaten at any meal, breakfast included).

This recipe works reasonably well with any type of potato but gluttonous husband uses Desiree, a good ‘all-rounder’. Generally you’d look for a potato species you’d also use for chips. In this photo, we’ve left one potato unpeeled to show the distinctive purple-pink skin of the Desiree.

Desiree potatoes

Get a potato with the right level of starch

We’ve kept the recipe basic here, but naturally you can add whatever herbs and spices that appeal to you. You can also use different types of onion; gluttonous husband has used spring onions to great effect.

(makes a generous serving for each person)
One medium potato per person
Quarter of a brown onion per person
A quantity of ghee (this is a judgement call, you need just enough of the clarified butter to coat the potato lightly and bind the patty – see the note below about making your own ghee. For the quantity we made to feed four people, we used 100 grams of butter that rendered up about 70ml of ghee)
Salt and pepper to season

Peel the potatoes and onions and put in a food processor to grate. Don’t finely mince – you want texture.

Grated potato

A food processor does the job fast

Drain any liquid from the processor bowl and then spread the mix on a clean linen tea towel. Gluttonous husband keeps a tea towel specifically for this dish. Sort through the mix to take out any bigger pieces of potato that may not have grated properly.
Grated potato

Spread over clean tea towel

It’s then time to bring the edges of the tea towel together to form a bag and squeeze out as much excess moisture as you can. There’s likely to be a lot. It’s important to get rid of most of the liquid – otherwise your finished product won’t crisp up. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Squeeze the moisture out

Squeeze the moisture out

Now it’s time for the ghee. This is clarified butter. You can buy it in the supermarket (the more expensive way) or make it yourself by heating unsalted butter in a small pan on the stove. Gluttonous husband has a small saucepan with a lip, perfect for melting butter. It needs to melt through and then cool and the milk solids in the butter will sink to the bottom of the saucepan – you don’t want to use the milk solids. They’re easy to spot – they’re a whitish colour, quite different from the golden colour of the clarified butter. Gluttonous husband likes to ‘brown’ the butter a little for extra flavour. If you try this yourself, keep a close watch so that it doesn’t burn.
Ghee: clarified butter

Ghee: clarified butter

Once the milk solids have separated, you just tip the ‘clarified butter’ over the potato, onion and seasoning mix. Do it carefully and slowly – making sure not to get any of the solids at the bottom of the pan into the mix and not to put too much in. Too much butter also makes the end result soggy and greasy.

Tip in the ghee carefully and slowly

Once the mixture is combined, place it in the fridge (cover it if you have other items in the fridge that might impart any ‘flavours’ to the mix) and leave it for at least an hour to help the mix set and the patties eventually to maintain their integrity. You can leave it for quite a few hours, until you’re ready for the final steps.

Take a heaped tablespoon of the mix and place into a baking tray. You don’t need to grease the tray. As you can see, the recipe makes quite a few! Bake in a hot oven (210 degrees celsius) for 40 minutes – turn them over at the 20 minute mark, patting them down gently at this point to make them flat.


Dot spoonfuls on an oven tray

The result is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside while being completely cooked through – so no risk of that raw potato flavour, and not at all greasy. Serve immediately – if you’ve seasoned them well enough during the mixing of ingredients you shouldn’t need any extra salt.

Tagged under: , , , ,