Swiss Cuisine — Kartoffel Rösti, Fried Potato Cake

Kartoffel rösti (recipe follows), a Swiss fried potato cake that is a cross between hash browns and potatoes Anna, is so popular in the German-speaking areas of Switzerland that it is often seen as an identifying symbol of Germanic Switzerland, sort of like how grits are used to symbolize the southern United States.  Rösti can be jazzed up with bacon, onions, cheese, apples, or herbs, but the basic version is just potatoes, fat, salt, and pepper.

Kartoffel rösti

adapted from The Swiss Cookbook by Nika Standen Hazelton and from the October 2012 Saveur


  • 2 large Russet potatoes, boiled
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper

The most important part of rösti is, of course, the potatoes.  We boiled two large Russet potato specimens:


…then peeled them:

The best method for peeling a boiled potato, by the way, is to scrape them with the blade of a paring knife.

…and finally grated them using the largest holes on our box grater:


While we were peeling and shredding the potatoes, we put our trusty cast iron skillet on the stove over medium-low heat.  Once the potatoes were shredded and the pan seemed plenty hot, we melted the butter with the oil in the pan:


Once the butter had melted completely, we added the potatoes:


…and stirred to combine with the fats:


The potatoes were then pressed into the bottom of the pan with the back of a large metal spatula to form our cake shape:


At this point, we realized we had made a serious omission, which is impressive for a recipe with only one ingredient: we had forgotten to season the potatoes!  Catching our mistake just in time, the potatoes were seasoned with salt and pepper:


…and re-pressed into a cake:


The potato cake was left to gently fry for about twenty minutes.  Trusting that it would be perfectly golden-brown on the bottom, we were ready to flip.  This is a potentially difficult, disastrous proposition made relatively easy with a large dinner plate.  We placed the plate on top of the pan:


…then flipped pan and plate together onto the counter, plate side down:


The bottom side of the rösti was now the top:


…and the cake could easily be slid back into the pan, keeping the brown side on top.  After another twenty minutes the plate-flipping process was repeated (this time with a bit browner, more delicious-looking result):

Once the plate and pan are flipped, it is difficult to keep the rösti centered on the plate.

The rösti was cut into wedges and served alongside our cordon bleu.  We wanted a vegetable side dish also, so we picked, of course, Swiss chard:


Rösti is crispy on the outside, creamy in the middle, and very potato-forward in flavor.  We think it would be a great weekend breakfast or brunch.

More from our Swiss meal:

Cordon bleu


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