Sunday, February 22, 2009

Starch in Your Diet, Not in Your Shirts

The St Lawrence Starch Co., LTDI have a confession to make. I hate loving the Williams-
Sonoma catalogue. I can't help myself though. The dazzling colors and shiny objects drive me to distraction. But I always feel a little bit dirty afterwards, especially if I actually break down and order anything not already drastically reduced. Let's face it, the prices are outrageous and you can find something comparable and lot more affordable in any restaurant supply store. But the artistry, the flair! It's food porn, plain and simple. No wonder I feel so unclean.

Yet and still, they're food lovers at heart; they're just out to make a buck off their passion and what could be more American than that?

Their online recipes aren't bad. Some don't even require you to buy Williams-Sonoma Chili-infused Pineapple Reduction or Williams-Sonoma Loire Valley Fumée de Sel. And so it was that I stumbled across their latke/hash brown recipe, rösti. It's a  Swiss potato dish that I've actually had in Switzerland and was delighted to see in the pages of Williams-Sonoma. (Okay, so they were trying to sell their totally un-necessary 2-piece frittata pan, but I was deaf to its siren call.)
Simple rösti ingredients
Rösti couldn't have fewer, more commonplace ingredients:
  • 1 lb Yukon potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 1¾ tsp flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 oz Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 Tbsp butter
Grating Yukon potatoesSpread seasoned potatoes in a even layer
Put that box grater away and pull out your trusty food processor with grating blade. It'll cut your prep time down to a figure approaching zero. Soak the grated potatoes in lots of cold water for five minutes. Drain, rinse, and drain again. Place a clean, cotton kitchen towel or double-folded cheese cloth over a bowl, and place potatoes into towel. Wring out as much water as possible. Spoiler Alert: Wring the hell out of the potatoes. If too much moisture remains, the rösti won't crisp up properly. Toss the dry potatoes with flour, salt, cheese, onion and pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Spread potatoes in an even layer in the skillet. Cover and cook until the bottom is golden and crispy, about 10 minutes.
Flip potatoes to brown other side
If you don't own the Williams-Sonoma frittata pan, remove the skillet from the flame,  invert a large platter over the skillet and flip over (you may need to loosen the potatoes with a spatula first). Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter to the pan and slide the potatoes, uncooked-side down back into the skillet. Cover and cook until the bottom again turns golden and crispy. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rösti rest for a few minutes. Slide out of the pan onto a cutting board and cut into wedges. Serve with fried or scrambled eggs and smoky bacon for an impressive brunch.
Fried eggsRösti with fried eggs
My rösti was a little too moist to crisp up the way I wanted. I should have wrung the water out more conscientiously or maybe left the skillet uncovered for part of the cooking time to release more moisture. But that's alright. I make the mistakes, so you don't have to. Notice too how I cleverly masked a broken yolk on one of my eggs by placing the rösti on top of it. I thought about frying up two more eggs, but was in a hurry, not hungry enough for four eggs, and mindful of wastefulness. I knew in the end I would be forgiven anyway.
In case you're wondering, I don't eat like this every day. But if I splurge on a meal or two over the weekend, I do it with a clear conscience. I believe British novelist John Mortimer put it best when he wrote, "I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There's no pleasure worth foregoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward." He lived to be 85.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

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