Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of the day I fled Switzerland, following an incredibly difficult year in the young artist program at the Zürich Opera. I decided I would celebrate the occasion by cooking up a traditional Swiss dinner.
Some months ago -- it may well have been Christmas -- my mother gave me a box of Hero brand Rösti. Rösti (pronounced "rœ-shtee") is a popular but simple Swiss potato dish that's basically like a giant hashbrown, but oh, so good. I decided I would pair it up with my all-time favorite Swiss recipe, Kalbsgeschnetzeltes, basically sauteed veal in a cream sauce with paprika and marjoram.
First, let me just get out of the way that I haven't really mastered the art of cooking more than one thing at a time. Second: what happened to the price of veal? I used to buy veal in New York every once in a while and it never bankrupted me; it was $21/lb here. I'll be having top ramen until my next paycheck (not a popular Swiss dish, but nonetheless, often what I ate while I lived there).
Hero Rösti comes in this space-age, air-tight silver pack; there's not even an expiration date on the box. (This was the same technology the Swiss used to seal up their national sense of humor.) The directions are simple enough: heat up a frying pan, put the potatoes in the pan, pat down into a patty shape and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until a nice golden brown crust forms on the bottom. Carefully place a plate over the frying pan, turn it over, drop the Rösti onto the plate, then slide it back into the pan on the uncooked side for an additional 6 minutes.
Okay, so at the 15 minute mark, I very, very carefully flipped the frying pan while holding a plate over it. I heard a little "thhhhheeeeerrrrrrrrthupkkt" and felt a delicate plop onto the plate. I gently removed the frying pan...and discovered a mass of yellow, uncooked potato pieces on the plate, while most of the Rösti hung in black and brown shreds from the bottom of the frying pan.
The veal turned out okay, though.