It's not enough that the Swiss brought us St Bernard rescue dogs, secret bank accounts and the world's fanciest watches: their national dish is arguably the planet's finest form of fried potato. Talk all you like about pommes frites or triple-fried anything—a perfect roesti is a thing of beauty. The problem is, it's so often imperfect—gluey or semi-raw in the middle, or something resembling a hash brown with identity issues.
Lesley Russell spent many years periodically travelling to Switzerland to visit her friend Chris Philip, a lifetime chef married to a Swiss national. Back in the '80s, Lesley and Chris were the backbone of TMix+’s publisher Geoff Slattery’s first restaurant in Melbourne’s King Street. Chris was the head chef, Lesley the whiz at desserts (and whatever else was required in a small team). Together they took the joint to stardom in The Age Good Food Guide.
Any chef worth his salt serving the critical hordes in Switzerland must be true to the essence of cooking roesti, and Chris has spent a lot of time perfecting this staple. When we say "a lot of time", we mean it: Chris likes to start three days ahead of time, which, as Lesley says, "sounds ominous, but the key to good roesti is starting to cook with a dry mixture".
In pursuit of the perfect roesti, Lesley has uses the Thermomix to help the process. It’s important to start with waxy potatoes, not a floury variety—in Australia, Desirees are widely available and will do the job.
Keep your focus as you're frying and keep kitchen intruders at bay, or your fresh-out-of-the-pan roesti will disappear before you've come close to finishing the batch. As the Swiss like to say when discouraging meddling of any kind: "Finger ab de Rösti". In English, that means "fingers off the roesti ".
The results are stars in their own right but they partner more than happily with eggs, smoked fish or bacon. A dollop of sour cream makes a nice foil for the crisp exterior.