As a purely arbitrary distinction, I call this cooked grated potato dish rosti if baked and hash browns if fried. Baking allows you to cook thicker “cakes’ whereas frying requires the hash browns to be thinner or the middle does not cook properly before the outside is burnt.
Rosti are a nice alternative way to serve potato with breakfast, lunch or dinner, as a snack, or at a party or barbecue. They can be dressed up with topping combinations such as sour cream and smoked salmon, basil and tomato or cheese with chutney, prosciutto or salami.
The basic ingredient of either is potato, grated. That is all you need, with a little salt and oil.
The half-dozen baked rosti shown are low-fat, cooked in a muffin pan.
The ingredients are;
- one potato, partly cooked, peeled and grated
- one onion halved and finely sliced
- a handful of coriander leaves, chopped
- two anchovies mashed
- a teaspoon of Nando’s hot piripiri sauce
- ground black pepper
See below for the preparation and alternatives.
I have been experimenting with cooking grated potato ever since Mike Hemmer introduced me to hash browns in Gizo, way back in 1985. He taught me to grate raw potato, squeeze out as much water as possible, and fry a handful at a time in oil over a medium heat. The result is quite nice. Cooked from raw it has an al dente quality and to my taste is frankly not as good as those McDonald’s and McCain make.
I have since discovered that by partly cooking the potato before grating it, you can eliminate the water problem and have a more pleasantly textured product. The secret is to bring the potatoes to a boil, turn off the heat and leave to stand for no more than 5 minutes , rinse under the cold tap to stop the cooking then leave them to cool.
Alternatively you can zap medium-large spuds in a microwave for one and a half minutes (at 800 watts) per potato and leave them to cool. It is important that they are only partly cooked, or you will end up with potato cakes, a different product altogether. Partly cooked potato can be grated but has a slightly glutinous texture, which binds up the water in the starch and holds the rosti together.
Part cook the potatoes before you peel them. If microwaving pierce them a couple of times with a skewer to prevent popping.
Grate or Julienne finely.
Above, you will see I grated half a spud and julienned the other half with the peeler shown. The results were identical, but the grater was definitely easier work. I shall reserve the julienner for carrots and cabbage in future, I think. Anyway, there is your basic ingredient. Ready to cook as is, if you wish.
Better with onion
Better still with coriander, parsley or basil
To accompany other dishes, or to serve at parties and barbecues, or just to make a snack more interesting there are a number of other ingredients to include. Try a some of the following, or a combination according to taste:
- finely sliced bacon
- smoked fish or tuna
- mashed anchovy
- chopped coriander leaves or parsley, or other herbs of choice, especially fresh basil or sage
- finely sliced or grated onion/garlic/shallot
- chilli sauce or finely chopped chillies
- sun-dried tomato and fresh basil
- cheese (if baking)
The possibilities are endless.
Once the ingredients are prepared, mix them well and cook.
Fry a heaped tablespoon at a time in oil, flattening them out like pancakes. Hashbrowns!
Arrange them in a small pile on baking paper, drizzle a little olive oil over them, and bake near the top of the oven at about 180 C for around 40 to 50 minutes. Rosti!
Or bake for 40 to 50 minutes in a non-stick muffin tray sprayed with a little oil. This is a much less fattening alternative, and tastes as good.
When done they should be browned and crisped on the outside and soft in the middle.
These six rosti were made from one good size potato, an onion, herbs and piripiri sauce.