Two years ago during my visiting family in Britain, The Calm One's sister was embroiled in a rating war. Her kids' number seven out of ten verdict on her mashed potatoes—mine was begrudgingly granted a five—would not budge regardless of her tireless efforts. A potato ricer was hopefully bought. This past August, during their visit to our French home, I got to see that ricer again. While whipping it out from a crammed suitcase, she looked intently into my eyes and exclaimed, salt!
It was not the variety of tater, if the milk was hot, or any other factor that was being considered. Once that simple element was added, everybody was happy, including moi as I always wanted to make rösti using a ricer or at least I did until my research revealed the desired texture is achieved by coarsely grating par-boiled potatoes: the rösti glows while the ricer glowers.
|The forlorn ricer|
Makes 5-6 side servings or two meal-sized portions
Potatoes, 750 grams, about 4 large
Butter, 2 T
Lard, 2 T
Salt/fleur de sel
Eggs, large, hard-boiled, 2
Sausage, sweet Italian or Toulouse, 1, cooked, crumbled
Parsley sprigs for garnishing
Potatoes that hold their shape are the best for this dish and are usually sold as salad/steaming/waxy potatoes. The night before or a few hours before making the rösti, scrub and boil them just until tender, but not soft. The fresh, smallish potatoes I used took about ten minutes.
|Jeanette, a pretty mid-season variety from our potager|
Put the potatoes in the fridge for at least two hours. Peel and then grate them using the largest hole of the grater. If salt is desired, then add it to taste. The purists leave it out as they are not concerned about rating wars. Fleur de sel could be sprinkled on the finished rösti by each eater instead of adding it to the grated potatoes.
Heat to sizzling hot, one tablespoon of butter along with one tablespoon of lard in a heavy-bottomed, eight-to-nine-inch skillet, preferably cast iron.
Put the grated potatoes in the hot fat and let be for a minute or two, then give the skillet a good shake to unstick the starchy mass. Lower the heat.
Using a spatula, even out and lightly press down the potatoes, while molding into a rounded edge.
Resist the urge to compress the rösti too much, as you want it to be somewhat fluffy.
While it's cooking, hard boil two eggs and reserve at room temperature. After around ten minutes check to see if the bottom has browned. If so, then the challenge of flipping awaits you.
This is the way I do it. Holding securely a lid over the skillet, I flipped it over, leaving the rosti browned side up in the lid.
Placing a plate over the lid, I repeat the maneuver which results in having the rösti land uncooked side up on the plate. If you are still with me, and I know you are, the last step is not to collapse into a tired heap on the sofa, but to bravely finish the task at hand. You saunter over to the skillet that now has the remaining butter and lard sizzling away, with that lovely half-cooked rösti, levelling and touching the plate with the skillet in preparation for flipping. Place your thumbs under each side of the plate, with the rest of your fingers on top. Starting slowly, bring up the plate on an angle and then quickly flip it over the skillet. You can practice with an empty plate.
While it's cooking for ten minutes, re-warm the sausage and reserve. The rösti can be cut in the pan or slid out onto a serving platter. Decoratively arrange egg slices and sprinkle them with sausage. Garnish with a parsley sprig.
Yes, all that flipping was exhausting and silly, but this is what you get to eat!
Dirac the kitten is developing a keen skill for acrobatics. One challenging 'tightrope' is the rocking chair's armrests. The program has been augmented with holding a cloth puck in his mouth while balancing his furry self.
How was he able to pull off such a concerted effort? He first practiced walking on the armrest many a time and then holding a puck right above the surface of my desk, sometimes for ten minutes, before combining the two activities. Obviously a committed artist!
À la prochaine!