There are few things in the world more soothing than potatoes, and this dish is comfort food at its best. I don’t even know where to start when it comes to describing the awesomeness of a good potato rosti. Also known as “Swiss hash browns,” potato rosti is simply coarsely grated potatoes that are pressed and then pan-fried. What this yields is a large potato pancake (sans eggs and flour) with an unbelievably crispy, golden brown exterior and a tender, almost fluffy, interior.
While a straight up potato rosti is pretty magical, I like to experiment with different add-ins to spice things up a bit. In this case, I threw some diced pancetta and mozzarella into the potatoes and topped the rosti with fresh arugula and juicy baby heirloom tomatoes. I also cooked the whole shebang in pancetta grease, which may as well be liquid gold.
When you cut into this bad boy, it’s studded with salty pancetta and starts oozing warm, melted mozzarella cheese. (I really wish my roommate had been home for this part because I imagine the terrifyingly enthusiastic reaction would have been viral video material.) Fresh tomatoes add sweetness and acidity to the savory potato pancake, and the arugula provides a peppery kick. Game changer.
For the record, Potato Rosti with Pancetta and Mozzarella makes a great rustic meal on its own, but it also doubles as a killer side dish. It’s the perfect accompaniment to chicken, fish, or meat of almost any kind, and I love topping it with an egg for a fancy breakfast/brunch option. If you want to slim down your rosti, try halving the oil and baking it on a rimmed baking sheet or throw some vegetables into the mix and go for low-fat cheese. Feel free to play around with the rosti concept and adapt it to suit your tastes. I’m all about versatility. —Serena Wolf | Domesticate ME!
- Serves 4
small yellow onion, minced
grated Yukon Gold potatoes (3-4 large potatoes, peeled)
fresh ground pepper
plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
baby heirloom or grape tomatoes
- Heat a medium-sized non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Strain the pancetta from the pan, reserving the rendered fat, and set both aside until ready to use.
- Place minced onions in a large bowl. Peel your potatoes and coarsely grate them using the large holes on a box grater. Mix the potatoes with the onions.
- Now for the most important step: Remove as much moisture from the potato and onion mixture as you can, which you can do in two ways. Option 1: Wrap the mixture in a clean dish towel and then twist the towel as tightly as you can to wring as much water out of the potatoes as humanly possible. (Obviously, you should do this over the sink.) Option 2: Take handfuls of the potato mixture and squeeze them to release as much water as you can, transferring the dry potatoes to a new bowl as you go. Either option will work well, but do not skip forget this step, people.
- Mix the cooked pancetta into the potatoes mixture and season with salt (about a teaspoon) and fresh ground pepper.
- Heat a tablespoon of the rendered fat from the pancetta and a tablespoon of olive oil until smoking slightly. (To check if the oil is hot enough, add a strand of potato to the pan. If it sizzles enthusiastically, the oil is ready.) Carefully add half of the potato mixture to the pan in an even layer and top with the diced mozzarella. Add the remaining potato mixture and pat it down with a spatula. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then lower the heat slightly. You still want to hear the potatoes lightly sizzling, but you don’t want them to be burning. Cook the rosti for 12-15 more minutes until the underside is nicely browned and the potatoes become tender.
- Flip your rosti. To do this, place a plate over the pan and carefully flip the rosti onto the plate. Heat another tablespoon of rendered fat from the pancetta and a tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, slide the rosti from the plate back into the pan. Cook for another 10-12 minutes until the underside is browned and the center is tender (which you can test with the tip of a sharp knife.) Remove the rosti from the pan and allow it to cool slightly.
- While the rosti is cooking. Slice your tomatoes in half with a serrated knife and place them in a small bowl. Toss with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Slice your rosti, and top with arugula and tomatoes. Serve immediately. Potatoes were a good choice.