I come from a country that has a lot in common with Switzerland, including a shared border, the Alps and a language (Italian is one of the official languages of Switzerland), yet I had never heard of rösti earlier than last year. Never even ate them by chance. I had had something pretty similar in Poland (placki ziemniaczane) but rösti are not quite the same thing, despite being potato-based just like the Polish fritters. I guess that one of the main differences between Italy and Switzerland (even Canton Ticino) is a different main source of starches.
Last year the school where I work launched a very interesting series of lessons aimed at exploring three European languages. The series is made of mostly language lessons, plus a few cooking lessons to give the pupils a taste of the culture of the countries where each language is spoken. As the Home Ec teacher, I was asked to cooperate when planning the practical-cultural sessions. The first language featured in the course was German, and rösti was the recipe we planned for our students.When I met up with the German teacher to brainstorm and think of something easy enough that could be made in just one hour and that came from a German-speaking country, rösti seemed to be the best of all fits. It’s easy, quick and cheap, it provides little room for food allergies and it’s from a German-speaking contry. We thought that featuring something from a country different than Germany would have been an added value. So here it is, rösti. The quantities in this recipe yield 4 fritters. If eaten as a side dish, I would recommend serving at least 2 per person.Rösti (serves 2):
- 350 g potatoes
- 80 g butter (might need a little more, in case)
- salt to taste
- optional: sour cream and chopped chives
Peel and grate the potatoes, possibly through the large holes of the grater in order to have larger pieces. Set a frying pan on the stove, put the butter in it and let it melt. While the butter is melting, divide the grated potatoes into 4. Make 4 balls by firmly squeezing the grated potatoes between your hands, in order to remove any excess liquid. When the butter has melted, add the 4 balls to the pan and press them down onto the butter with a spatula in order to flatten them and achieve a fritter shape. Fry one side for about 4 minutes, then flip over and fry the other side. The desired rösti is golden brown, so if it is still too pale when flipped, flip it one more time until it has reached the right colour and level of crunchiness. If you see that all the butter has been absorbed by the fritters, add some more to prevent them from burning. Once ready, remove the rösti from the frying pan and set them on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any extra butter.Rösti are mainly made of two ingredients: potatoes and butter. Butter can be substituted with margarine in case of allergies to milk/lactose. Once cooked, sprinkle the fritters with some salt and enjoy. Optionally, they can be served with a dollop of sour cream and some freshly chopped chives. Some add onion to the grated potatoes, too, and I believe that many more spices can be added as well, but we went for the easiest plain option.Our pupils were stoked. To them, rösti was like the missing link between a pancake and french fries. As a food teacher I always notice the different taste each child has, and I am not surprised to acknowledge that not all recipes suit all palates. But it was not the case with rösti. Each and every student happily devoured their Swiss treats. I guess that Switzerland now has a few more fans.