Liechtenstein is really very small. Tucked in the Alps between Switzerland and Austria, it only has 35,000 inhabitants. When I hear numbers like this I always put it into a sporting context. The population of Liechtenstein could fit neatly into the KC Stadium in Hull, home of Hull City FC. Bringing this back to cuisine, if you were to take the crowd at Hull and leave them to their devices for a couple of hundred years, do you think they would have created their own dishes, or do you think they might have just carried on with the usual. you know: Fish Chips and Peas, Chicken Tikka Masala, Spag Bol. I’m not convinced we would have seen too many culinary advances, but that is not to demean Hull, but more to explain that 35,000 is not very many people, so we shouldn’t expect too much. That does seem to be the case with Liechtenstein and many of the dishes eaten there have been ‘borrowed’ from their neighbours: Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) and Schnitzel (crumbed and fried pork) are pretty good examples. However, I am pleased to say that my assumptions have been quite wrong and wee Liechtenstein has a number of regional dishes which can be traced to creation to the tiny (62km sq) state. Examples include Hafaläb, which is a corn flour bread and Törkarebl is a form of dumpling, again made from corn flour. I didn’t want to make a simple bread if I could avoid it, as I am not sure how interesting I could make that, and I made Dumplings 3 weeks ago when cooking Georgia, so I have looked further afield. Also, not wanting to cook a ‘borrowed’ dish, my search took me into the Alps and came across Alperrosti, so called as (obviously) it is a Rosti from the Alps!
I love the idea of the Alperrosti. It is simple (if you don’t burn them) and it is filling. Imagine being half way up a mountain on a ski run and you have 5 minutes to throw down something tasty but will keep your energy up for 4 hours. Bread won’t do that and a main dish takes longer to eat, but Alperrosti is full of carbs, protein, salt and some fat. It replenishes everything you will have lost whilst negotiating the moguls, and gives you everything you need for the afternoon ahead and into apres-ski.
Making the dish was aided hugely by the mountain of leftover muslins we have from Henry’s first year, and I found it relatively stress free. Grating a potato is always novel and relaxing and there was little balancing of flavours (although I was tempted to pop a bit of paprika into the rosti mix).
Ok, I’m done. I have some mixed views about the final result. I think the dish is great, but it is pretty simple. Not only that, it is nothing but a breakfast in UK culture. Tasting the dish I liked it, but I have to say it did taste like a hash brown with an egg on top, which is good but nothing close to spectacular.
In summary, I do respect that this dish is a true representation of Liechtenstein and I do understand why people would want to eat it on a cold winters day and that it would really do a great job in warming, filling and it tastes good. It it, however, a dish which tastes like a hash brown with an egg on top. If that rocks your socks, then make it. I might save it for hangovers!
Peel and grate about 500gm of Potatoes. Pop them in a muslin and squeeze all of the moisture out
Cook 4 rashers of bacon and chop up very small
Mix the potato and bacon together and add salt and pepper (to taste) and a whisked egg
Warm a frying pan with a knob of butter and a tbsp of oil
Add half the mixture and flatten into a disk. Fry until golden brown.
Flip the rosti and cook for 12-15 mins on a lower heat
Add grated gruyere to the top of the rosti and slide it onto a tray which can go under the grill. Whilst grilling the rosti, fry an egg. When fried pop the egg on the rosti and you are done. Alperrosti.