Imagine a giant potato pancake – crisp on the outside, tender on the inside – with onions, ham and melting cheese mixed in, and soft-cooked eggs baked on top. Doesn’t that sound amazing? The recipe is inspired by a very old and popular Swiss dish called Rösti.
Rösti is up there with fondue and raclette as one of Switzerland’s most iconic dishes. Traditional Swiss Rösti is more like a pancake than a casserole and it is generally made by pressing shredded potatoes into a cast iron skillet to form a cake, and cooking it in hot butter until it’s brown on the outside and soft inside. Back in the early 1800’s it was a common farmer’s breakfast – cooked over the fire in a wood stove.
Nowadays in Switzerland rösti is served for breakfast, lunch or dinner – often as a hearty side dish for meat.
I love the concept of making a rösti into a casserole. I got the idea from Cooking Light. I tweaked it quite a bit, mostly by adding ham and cheese and mustard to the mix. My version is definitely not as “light” but I think it’s a worthwhile splurge!
I have to give a shout out to the technique I used here for the potatoes. I did a lot of research into how to achieve the desired texture for the potatoes – crisp on the outside, super soft and tender inside. I came across some debate about whether it’s best to simply grate raw potatoes or to go the extra step of boiling and cooling the potatoes before grating them. I tried both and the boiling method is the definite winner. First of all, you can just throw the potatoes into the boiling water, skin and all. Once boiled, the skin practically falls off by itself. After chilling the potatoes, they are super easy to grate by hand. Then when you cook them, they are the perfect texture inside and out! I’m so happy with this new discovery that I’ll be making my potato pancakes this way in the future!
I think this shredded potato casserole is tasty and festive enough to serve for a special brunch!
- 3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 large)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
- 6 ounces smoked ham, such as Black Forest, diced (1/4-inch dice)
- 1 cup low-fat Greek-style yogurt
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 6 ounces grated Emmentaler Cheese (or substitute Gruyere)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 8 large eggs
- Optional garnish of fresh snipped chives, chopped parsley, sliced scallions, sour cream or plain yogurt.
- Cook & Grate Potatoes: Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and boil them for ½ hour. Remove potatoes from pot and cool them in the fridge for at least two hours or as long as overnight. Once cooled, peel potatoes and grate them into a large bowl using the large holes in a cheese grater.
- Saute Onions & Ham: Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add ham and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the potatoes.
- Assemble the Casserole: Preheat oven to 400°F. Add yogurt, mustard, cheese, salt, pepper and cayenne to the bowl with the potatoes, ham and onions. Toss gently to combine (I like using my hands for this) Spread potato mixture evenly into a baking dish (about 13 x 9–inch) coated with cooking spray or lightly oiled. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn the heat up to broil and cook for 4-5 minutes longer, checking every minute, until the top is lightly browned. Turn the heat back down to 400. Remove the casserole from the oven. With the back of a tablespoon, make 8 indentations in top of the casserole. Crack 1 egg into each hole. Return dish to oven. Bake at 400° for 10-12 minutes or until egg whites are firm and yolks barely move when pan is jiggled. Cut into 8 pieces. Garnish with chives, parsley or scallions, sour cream or yogurt, if desired. Serve immediately.
- For brunch or lunch, a simple green salad or steamed asparagus would be a good accompaniment.