BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Rösti (pan-fried potatoes)


Berner Rösti (Bern pan-fried potatoes)

Across from the railway station in Lausanne is a rising cobbled street. It leads to a busy road in the heart of the lakeside city. Tucked in beside St Francois church is the august establishment known as Café Romand. 

Under the auspices of Madame Christiane Péclat and her chef cuisinier Thierry Lagegre, it is rustic charm and serves some of the best traditional food in Switzerland.

If you are lucky you’ll get a two-person table by the wide window looking out at those looking in, wondering what you are going to eat. If rösti is on your plate you might get a jealous look. 

Lagegre makes it with parboiled waxy potatoes, in the fashion of the Bernese. When UNESCO recognised the Bernese for their craftiness with this Swiss treat they knew what they were doing.

So there is an irony about a restaurant in Roman Switzerland perfecting a dish with a legendary association to the Germanic cantons of Switzerland. We’ll come back to this.

  • 1 kg waxy potatoes, parboiled whole in skins, refrigerated overnight
  • 50 g bacon, diced
  • 30 g butter
  • 30 ml milk
  • Salt, large pinch

Peel the potatoes, grate and mix with salt. Heat a large frying pan, add a third of the butter and oil, making sure to cover all the surface and up to the rim, turn heat to low. Add bacon and potato, fry, pressing down with a spatula to form a cake. After ten minutes add another third of the butter and oil all round the edge of the rösti cake. When the edges start to harden and crisp, shake the pan to make sure the potato mix has not stuck to the base. Cover with a plate and fry for another ten minutes until the underside has formed a golden crust. Turn the rösti over by inverting the pan and plate, leaving it on the plate, and sliding it back into the pan. Add the remaining third of the butter-oil around the edges. Leave to fry for ten minutes. Finally pour the milk over the rösti, cover and cook for ten minutes. The milk will evaporate. Crafty cooks use goose fat laced with oil because it brings up the golden colour.


Zürcher Rösti (Zürich pan-fried potatoes)

  • 1 kg Urgenta potatoes, grated, squeezed, dried
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 30 g vegetable oil
  • 15 g caraway seeds, soaked
  • Salt, large pinch

Mix onions and potatoes, and sauté in a frying pan over a medium heat for ten minutes. Place a plate on top of the frying pan, invert onto the plate. Oil pan and slide rösti back. Cook for 20 minutes.

Rösti Ursprünglich (original pan-fried potatoes)

Many restaurants serve the original boiled potato version.

  • 1 kg boiled whole rösti potatoes, peeled, grated
  • 300 g Appenzeller / Emmental cheese Eggs (optional)
  • 45 g butter
  • Salt, pinch

Melt a tablespoon of butter in large frying pan, add potatoes and salt. Fry over low heat. Press down on potatoes, add a tablespoon of butter to the pan edge, cover with a plate and cook until a crust begins to form. Turn the rösti onto the plate. Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan, slip the rösti back into the pan and fry until golden. Serve a fried egg with each portion.