The Swiss gave us rösti, a traditional farmers’ breakfast equivalent to hash browns. Full-bodied potatoes (either cooked or raw) are grated, seasoned, shaped into thin patties, and fried to a crispy golden brown.
In this scenario, I’ve swapped out the potatoes for sweet potatoes, and added some fresh, fragrant herbs with a touch of nutmeg to punch up the flavor. You can enjoy your rösti as an accompaniment to meat or grains, or make it the base for any number of main courses. Top it with a piece of broiled halibut, grilled chicken or rice pilaf. Or, add a sunnyside up egg and try it for breakfast.
Baked sweet potatoes are soft, so grate with a gentle hand. The idea is to get a little bit of layered texture into the dish. Also, with no egg to bind the sweet potato, your rösti is being held together with a touch of caramelization and a lot of patience. You must flip carefully, or the whole thing may fall apart before it gets to the plate. If this happens, it’s not the end of the world – the crispy, caramelized sweet potato will wow you no matter what shape it’s in. You may also find a little wiggle room to gently reshape your rösti once plated.
1 medium sweet potato (about 6 ounces)
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped, plus a couple of sage leaves for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg
1 egg (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°. Wash sweet potato, rub with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and place in oven. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until cooked through and tender when pierced with a fork. Cool and place in refrigerator at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
Peel and gently grate sweet potato. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter to a small (6-inch) heavy frying pan and heat over medium heat until melted and mixed together. Add grated sweet potato to pan, carefully spreading and shaping to fill the pan. Season with tarragon, sage, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Press down gently with back of spatula to form a solid cake. Continue to cook on medium to medium-low heat until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place a plate over the pan and carefully flip the pan over onto plate, then gently slide the rösti back into the pan to continue cooking. Gently press down again with spatula, and continue to cook until golden and crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Flip, as before, onto serving plate. Garnish with remaining chopped tarragon and sage leaves. If you like, fry an egg sunnyside up. Place egg on top of rösti and serve immediately.
Makes 1 sweet potato rösti.