Rösti has become a rather difficult thing to find in the restaurants and cafes of Britain. One could argue that the hash brown is a fairly common solution to this problem. However, there is something about the hash brown that screams ‘English fry-up’- it has not the class of the rather more delicate Swiss Rösti. I can almost smell the sense of disbelief in the fact that you have just witnessed me, a relatively staunch British traditionalist, at least when it comes to food, bash one of our own. However, what you must realise is that most traditional British food is part of a truly great culinary tradition and that I’m more than happy to bash what I perceive to be inferior. Perhaps I shall have to attempt to reinvent the hash brown – now there’s an idea.
Aside from the delicacy and brilliance of the Rösti, it also fits in with my frugal tendencies rather well. There is but one ingredient in the perfect Rösti; potato. Is not the humble potato simply the most incredible ingredient? It has single-handedly sustained entire nations, it can be fried, baked, boiled, grated, mashed, sliced and –shudder– powdered. Yet, despite all of this, it is incredibly underrated. For some reason people find them boring and plain, which is no doubt a result of them having no idea what to do with the king of tuberous crop. Moreover, potatoes are also a really healthy means by which one can gain all sorts of vitamins and minerals. They contain high levels of vitamin-C and Potassium as well as a full complement of other necessaries – albeit in small amounts. Indeed, it irritates me a little that despite the obvious health benefits of the potato, the NHS does not consider them to be part of our recommended 5-a-day.
Potato Rösti with Salad and Lemon Vinaigrette
• 370g potatoes, peeled and grated
• Salt and Pepper
• Olive Oil
• 1 baby-gem lettuce, or an equivalent
• A handful of rocket or baby water-cress
• The juice of 1 lemon
• ½ tsp English or Dijon mustard
• A few good glugs of olive oil
• ½ tsp sugar
• A little grated parmesan cheese
1. Place your grated potato in a clean tea-towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Remove the potato, season well and shape into two equally sized potato pancakes 1.5-2cm thick. Heat up a generous amount of olive oil in a thick frying pan or griddle. Once the oil is fairly hot place each pancake into the pan. Cook on each side, over a medium heat, for 10 minutes. The Rösti is done when it is golden brown all over.
2. While the Rösti is cooking prepare your salad and vinaigrette. Chop the crunchy baby-gem rather thinly, removing any of the hard core – it can be a little bitter. Place this neatly on your plate before adding a little rocket or watercress. To make the vinaigrette simple mix the lemon juice, mustard, olive oil and sugar together. Drizzle this over the salad before place the Rösti on top. Garnish with a small amount of parmesan cheese.
Cost: Not one ingredient in this dish was particularly expensive. The Rösti themselves set me back a mere 20p; the salad, perhaps 50-60p; and the vinaigrette, a mere 25p. As such, when everything has been factored in this lunch for two should set one back little over £1. Not bad for something so pretty.