Rosti Potatoes with Melted Leeks and Goat Cheese
I think potatoes single-handedly got me through “Cuisine Intermediaire” at Le Cordon Bleu, and for that, they will always have a special place in my heart.
The way LCB works is pretty simple. Each lesson involves a 3-hour demonstration in a “classroom,” followed by a 3-hour practical in the kitchen. In the demonstration, a chef prepares multiple recipes, while the students observe and frantically take notes in preparation for cooking the same recipes themselves in the practical. The demo concludes with a tasting, and everyone must try each recipe so that they know exactly what it’s supposed to taste like. (Note: You are not allowed to have food allergies or dietary restrictions at LCB.) All of these activities are done while wearing a very sexy uniform and an even sexier hairnet.
For whatever reason, the intermediate term at LCB focused primarily on fish preparations. Every recipe began with the whole fish, and many involved the super fun French tradition of stuffing fish with other fish. This meant that I was regularly force-fed things like salmon mousse at 9am, which was rather stressful given my general aversion to whipped fish and my perpetual Parisian hangover. (As I’ve mentioned before, the thrilling 2010-2012 portion of my memoir shall be entitled “Hungover in Paris: That Shit Cray.”)
The only silver lining to this fish-heavy semester was the amount of potatoes involved. By some miracle, a number of ze poisson recipes incorporated a festive potato side—from pommes frites and buttery puree to crispy pancakes and gnocchi. There was even a particularly glorious day where we deep-fried little balls of cheesy mashed potatoes. I may or may not have shrieked dramatically during that demo to warn the chef—who had become distracted playing with a fish—that he was scorching his potato balls(!!!). Priorities, dammit.
Honestly, I’ve always loved potatoes, but my appreciation for them deepened substantially during this traumatic, fishy time in my life. I took much needed solace in their simplicity, consistent deliciousness, and stomach-soothing starch content, and to this day, potatoes remain my go-to comfort food. It’s impossible to pick a favorite potato recipe (Sophie’s choice!), but I find myself especially drawn to anything in the crispy camp, and few things (potato or otherwise) excite me more than a good old-fashioned rosti.
In case you’re not familiar with the term “rosti” (no judgment), it’s simply fancy Swiss lingo for hash browns. We made miniature rosti at some point in my culinary training, but I’ve now grown partial to making BIG ONES, like the rosti you see on your screen.
This particular rosti is 10-inches of crispy hash brown heaven, friends, and it’s more than worthy of all your favorite expletives adjectives. The crunchy, golden brown crust on this bad boy gives way to an interior that’s melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the potatoes are stuffed with a surprise layer of melted leeks, fresh thyme, and creamy goat cheese. Whether you serve it for brunch (Mother’s Day??!) with an egg on top, or for dinner with a big green salad (or a piece of fish…), I promise you’re in for some seriously ego-boosting compliments. So please take this rosti for a spin, stat.
To get the full recipe for Rosti Potatoes with Melted Leeks and Goat Cheese, hop on over to FromThePod.com. I’ve been sharing all sorts of festive recipes over there lately.
p.s. Don’t be afraid of the flip! It’s quick and painless, and there are zero spatula or one-handed flipping skillz required. To flip the rosti, simply cover your skillet with a large dinner plate, invert the rosti onto the plate, and then slide it back into the pan. Done and done.
- 4 cups coarsely grated Yukon Gold potatoes roughly 3-4 large potatoes, peeled
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cups thinly sliced leeks white and light green parts only (about 2 medium leeks)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil for frying
- 4 ounces goat cheese crumbled
- For serving: optional
- 4 fried eggs
Start by prepping your potatoes. Wrap the grated potatoes in a clean dish towel. Twist the towel tightly, wringing out as much moisture from the potatoes as humanly possible. (I find it’s easiest to do this in 2-3 batches.) Place the dried potatoes in a mixing bowl. Season with a generous amount of salt and fresh ground pepper. Briefly set aside.
Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. (I recommend a well-seasoned cast iron or non-stick skillet.) When melted add the leeks and thyme, and season salt and fresh ground pepper. Cook the leeks for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until very soft. (If the leeks start to brown, reduce the heat to medium-low and carry on.) Transfer the leeks to a bowl. Wipe out the skillet and return it to the stove.
Heat 1½ tablespoons of oil over medium-high until shimmering. (To check if the oil is hot enough, add a strand of potato to the skillet. If it sizzles enthusiastically, you’re good to go.) Add half of the potatoes to the pan in an even layer. Add the leeks in an even layer and then the goat cheese. Top with the remaining potatoes in an even layer.
Cook for 3 minutes, then lower the heat to medium-low. (You should still hear the potatoes sizzling.) Cook for another 13-15 minutes until the underside of the potatoes is golden brown and crisp.
Time to flip the rosti. To do this, place a large plate over the skillet and carefully turn the skillet over, flipping the rosti onto the plate.
Heat the remaining 1½ tablespoons of oil in the skillet. When hot, carefully slide the rosti from the plate back into the skillet. Cook for another 10-12 minutes until the underside is browned and the center is tender. Remove the rosti from the pan and allow it to cool slightly.
Slice the rosti into quarters and serve warm. Top each serving with a fried egg if you like
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