Swiss Food – the one you probably did not know
Chocolate, Fondue, Raclette. Yes, that is very Swiss. But Switzerland has a lot of other dishes and food. Since Switzerland is quadrilingual, every language region has its own special food. Here are the authors favourites:
German-Swiss: Roesti (sliced fried potatoes)
The Swiss love potatoes. In every shape, cooked, sliced, fried, mashed, grilled. The most famous dish with potatoes is ”Roesti”. It is the Swiss version of the Spain ”Tortilla de patatas” or the US ”Hash Browns”.
The main ingredients are just Potatoes and Butter; but the less ingredients it has, the more discussions about the preparation you have:
Cooked or raw potatos?
Which type of potatos?
Butter or Goose Fat for a perfect flavour?
Peeled or unpeeled potatos?
Every family has its own recipe and secret procedure or ingredient. But the result is always a pancake-shaped potato dish. You can have it as a main or side dish, combine it with fried egg, spinach or frying sausage. Once you have the perfect technique, it is a easy but delicious dish to make:
1. Parboil potatoes in salted water until just tender, but not soft. Allow to cool, and chill for at least a couple of hours.
2. Coarsely grate the potatoes and some season. Heat a bit fat in a small, heavy-based frying pan until sizzling, and then add the grated potato, allow to cook for a couple of minutes and then shape it into a flat cake, pressing down as lightly as possible. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, then gently shake the pan to loosen the potato.
3. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes until golden and crisp, then place a plate on top of the pan and invert it so the cake sits, cooked-side up, on the plate.
4. Add some more fat to the pan and, when hot, slide the potato cake back into the pan the other way up (you can also flip it, if you are confident enough). Cook for another 10 minutes, then serve.
French-Swiss: Crème brûlée
To admit, the French know this crispy caramel crust also very well. But in Switzerland you get your Crème brûlée normally with a lot of whipped cream on top.
The most complicated part about preparing a Crème brûlée is the sugar-melting at the end. Be careful, so that your crust won’t get burnt.
Ingredients for 6 servings:
6 egg yolks, 500 ml heavy cream, 100 gr white sugar, 0.5 tea spoon vanilla extract, 2 tea spoons brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
2. Beat egg yolks, white sugar (spare 2 tablespoons) and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until thick and creamy.
3. Pour cream into a saucepan and stir over low heat until it almost comes to boil. Remove the cream from heat immediately. Stir cream into the egg yolk mixture; beat until combined.
4. Pour cream mixture into the top pan of a double boiler. Stir over simmering water until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Remove mixture from heat immediately and pour into a shallow heat-proof dish.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
6. Preheat oven to broil.
7. In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons white sugar and brown sugar. Sift this mixture evenly over custard. Place dish under broiler until sugar melts, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully so as not to burn.
8. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate until custard is set again.
9. Serve it with a nice portion whipped cream on top.
As much as german-speaking Swiss love their Roesti, the ticino love their Polenta. The preparation is easy and the ingredients manageable. The former poor man’s food is a perfect side dish for goulash or ragout. In the Ticino, most of the people eat it with rabbit liver or saddle.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
7 dl broth, 20 g butter, 120 g polenta (corn semolina), 1 dl cream, 4 tablespoons Sbrinz or Parmigiano cheese
1. Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan; pour polenta slowly into the broth, whisking constantly until all polenta is stirred in and there are no lumps.
2. Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until polenta starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Polenta mixture should still be slightly loose. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, whisking every 5 to 6 minutes. When polenta is too thick to whisk, stir with a wooden spoon. Polenta is done when texture is creamy and the individual grains are tender.
3. Turn off heat and gently stir 2 tablespoons butter into polenta until butter partially melts; mix 1/2 cup cheese into polenta until cheese has melted. Cover and let stand 5 minutes to thicken; stir and taste for salt before transferring to a serving bowl. Top polenta with remaining 1 tablespoon butter and about 1 tablespoon freshly grated cheese for garnish.
Romansh-Swiss: Grisons Nut Pastry
The Grisons don’t have just their own language, they also have their own special pie recipes. The Nut Pastry is probably the most famous and the most calorie containing, but also the most tasty.
Ingredients for 1 cake
For the shortcrust pastry
350 g flour
125 g sugar
150 g butter
1 egg yolk
For the filling
225 g sugar
150 ml cream
1 tablespoon honey
225 g shelled walnuts
1. Prepare the shortcrust pastry. Work together the sugar, flour and butter by hand until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg, egg yolk, salt and grated lemon rind, continue to mix until a smooth pastry is formed. Allow to rest a while in the refrigerator before while preparing the filling.
2. Divide the pastry into 2/3 and 1/3 and roll the larger part out to line a pie plate, which you have previously buttered and floured lightly. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork.
3. To make the filling, make a caramel in the usual way from the sugar. Add the cream, bring to the boil and dissolve the caramel. When the caramel is dissolved, add the honey and the halved walnut kernels, allow to cool to tepid.
4. Preheat the oven to 200 C and tip the filling into the pie plate. The base should be about 2/3 filled. Roll out the remaining pastry and use it to form a cover to the pie. Seal the edges well, and make a hole in the centre of the lid.
5. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes and allow to cool. The cake must rest 24 hours before being served.