One of the most iconic Swiss dishes is Rösti. To make it, you grate potatoes (often boiled first) and fry them into flat, round pancake. Ideally, the potatoes become crisp and golden brown on the outside, while they remain a bit soft and almost creamy on the inside. This comforting dish has many variations.
The Swiss also use the name of this dish to describe an invisible line dividing the German-speaking and French-speaking parts of the Switzerland. They refer to it as the Röstigraben or “Rösti Ditch.” This concept operates under the assumption that this potato dish is more common in Switzerland’s German-speaking regions. While this may be the case, you can find versions of fried grated potatoes throughout the country, although markedly less so in Ticino.
What kind of potato should you use? For the best results, you should pick a waxy potato. These potatoes are generally lower in starch and higher in moisture. Swiss supermarkets will often label bags of potatoes with “rösti” on them, so you know which ones to buy. New potatoes work well for this dish, for example. The following Swiss potatoes varieties would also be good choices: amandine, annabelle, ballerina, celtiane, charlotte, cheyenne, ditta, erika, gourmandine, gwenne, jazzy, lady christl, lucera, lutine, maldive, queen anne, sunshine, venezia and vitabella.
Flipping the potato pancake: I like to use a heat-safe plate when inverting my rösti so it can cook evenly on its other side. Others like to flip their potato pancake in the pan for a more dramatic presentation, which I also do from time to time.
Another tip: I have heard multiple times from different people that your boiled potatoes should sit in the refrigerator about 1-2 days before you grate them.
Rösti is a versatile dish that can be served in countless different ways! To give you some inspiration for making it at home, here are 12 ideas for when you’re craving fried potatoes.
1. All natural and straight from the skillet
Recipe: Swiss Hash Browns (Rösti) from Saveur
2. With a fried egg
One of the easiest additions to your fried potato pancake is to simply place a fried egg on top for a quick meal. Then, sprinkle it with freshly chopped herbs and some salt and pepper. Serve it for breakfast with your morning coffee or with a salad for lunch or dinner.
3. With bacon and onions
The Bernese version of Rösti is fried with bacon and onions mixed in with the grated potatoes. Recipe: Berner Rösti via Betty Bossi
4. With chanterelles
Mushrooms are another wonderful pairing for potato rösti. At La Grand-Vy, one of the mountain restaurants near Creux du Van in the canton of Neuchâtel, I had it topped with chanterelles. It was a very memorable dish.
5. With Appenzeller cheese
Cheese works extremely well as another excellent topping for this dish. In the Appenzell region, you might find the rösti there mixed with chopped bacon or Mostbröckli (a regional dried beef) and topped with Appenzeller cheese.
6. With grated Schabziger cheese and parsley
In the canton of Glarus, rösti has another regional cheese grated and sprinkled on top. Glarner Schabziger has a distinct conical shape. Its gets its unique light green color and flavor from Blue Fenugreek. First produced during the 15th century, it has also earned the title of “Switzerland’s oldest protected brand.”
7. With Raclette cheese and a fried egg
Combining a fried egg and a slice or two of Raclette cheese to the top of your rösti is always a good idea. A Raclette cheese topping is a classic way to serve this dish in the canton of Valais.
8. With ham and Tomme cheese
In the canton of Neuchâtel, at the Château de Boudry, I had a generous portion of rösti for lunch topped with a wheel of Tomme cheese and two slices of ham. This soft, mild-flavored cheese has a delicate rind. Heated from the warmth of the potato pancake, the cheese spilled out of its soft shells when you slice it. Tomme cheese comes in particular from the French-speaking cantons of Genève, Neuchâtel and Vaud.
9. With a fried egg, Gruyère & ham accompanied by cornichons and pickled onions
When your rösti is smothered with melted cheese, it may also come with some vinegary accompaniments. Typical examples are cornichons or pickled onions, which you may also see served with a cheese fondue or raclette.
10. With a St. Galler Bratwurst and onion sauce
Another classic pairing for Swiss rösti is a St. Galler Bratwurst with onion sauce.
Recipe: St. Galler Bratwurst mit Zwiebelsauce from Sortenorganisation St. Galler Bratwurst
11. With Züri-Gschnätzlets
A sliced veal ragout with mushrooms rom Zürich, Züri-Gschnätzlets (also known as Zürcher Geschnetzeltes is traditionally served with rösti.
Recipe: Zürcher Geschnetzeltes from Betty Bossi via Switzerland Tourism
12. With Nidwaldner Kalbsgeschnetzeltes
In Nidwalden, rösti is also a common side dish for this canton’s version of Kalbsgeschnetzeltes. Unlike the version from Zürich, the Nidwalden version of this veal ragout is made with fruit. The majority of recipes I have seen call for apples, but I had it with grapes at the Taverne 1879 Restaurant at the Bürgenstock Resort.
Recipe: Nidwalden veal geschnetzeltes from Nidwalden Tourismus
What’s your favorite way to enjoy Swiss rösti? Please leave a comment below.