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Swiss Alpine Potatoes

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A simple dish using gorgeous Swiss ingredients you can bring back from an Alpine vacation.

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This is not a traditional recipe and is not roesti. I made a simple Alpine dish with what I had in my kitchen and it came out so nice that I remade it the next day to show you. Please consider this as an unpretentious illustration of what you can do with food specialties you can bring back from a trip to the Alps - dried bacon, herbs and cheese.

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Alpine Potatoes
Potatoes (variety that retains its shape after cooking)
Valaisian dried bacon (petit lard)
Onions
Rosemary
Swiss Alpine meadow cheese from raw milk, ie Gruyère, Etivaz, Bagne or Vacherin

Every conscientious and well-informed foodie should bring some fromage d'alpage cheese from Switzerland. These are the cheeses made in small chalets up there in the Alps where there are no roads, no electricity and no running water. These cheeses are made from the unpasteurized milk produced by cows during the spring and summer while pasturing on high-altitude meadows. The rich diversity of their herbal diet - a selection of the finest flowers, herbs and grasses that grow in the Alps - make for a uniquely rich tasting cheese. There is no rousseauian snobbery here, any blind test will show you that these cheeses just taste better.

You can also leave out the bacon and rosemary for a simpler dish. Quantities are approximate as always for a peasant recipe.

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Start by peeling the potatoes.

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Then slice the potatoes as thin as you can.

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Continue until all the potatoes are sliced. Discard the peel.

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Peel the onion.

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Slice the onion.

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Remove the pig skin.

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Slice the bacon thinly crosswise...

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Beautiful!

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Place the bacon in a large iron pan (photo) and start on medium high heat.

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When the bacon starts to soften and render some of its fat, add the onions. You may have to add a little oil!

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Mix, add the rosemary and stir until the onion starts to soften.

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Add the potatoes...

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... and mix them in.

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Turn regularly until potatoes are done.

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Meanwhile, remove the cheese crust from the part you will use.

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Slice as thin as you can.

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You may have to cover the pan and reduce the heat to ensure the potatoes are cooked through.

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At last, after 20 minutes our potatoes are done and nicely browned.

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Let's add the cheese...

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and cover the potatoes like tiles.

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There is only one way to melt cheese: slowly. If the temperature is too high, the cheese will split and render oil and you'll have destroyed a mighty fine product. Just reduce the flame on low and cover again to let the cheese melt at its own pace.

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Peek as many times as you like to see how the melting progresses.

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Serve as a hearty winter one-pot-meal. Please note that these are NOT roesti, a popular Swiss dish where the potatoes are cooked, left to cool down, coarsely grated and cooked in the same type of pan on a very low flame without any movement.

Published 07/03/2008
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35 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by Jason
  • on: 07/03/2008
Looks like I have another new dish to make! As always, looks delicious! Thank You FX
  • #2
  • Comment by Peter
  • on: 07/03/2008
This IS a wonderful and rustic potato dish. It's too easy to ignore and not try.
Simple but all about having the perfect ingredients... That dried bacon looks beautiful. Put a poached egg on that - quickly!
This is the coolest food blog I have ever seen. I just found it yesterday.  I love all the pictures, and I love the down-to-business posts. It really makes you feel like you're there!  Anyway. Good job. We're really enjoying your blog. :)
  • #5
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/03/2008
Jason, thanks for visiting and I hope you get to taste some Swiss 'alpage' cheese soon!
  • #6
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/03/2008
Peter thanks for visiting and trying out my Swiss dish! Definitely a dish worthy of Canadian trappers' food.
  • #7
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/03/2008
Claudia, the poached egg sounds like a great idea! The more traditional way (certainly not the tastier way) here would be to just break the egg right on the potatoes and let it coagulate slowly. A calorie kick for the starved mountaineer!
  • #8
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/03/2008
Traci thanks a lot for your kind comments on my blog! I hope it will inspire you to make some of these recipes down there in Orange County where the sun never sets!
  • #9
  • Comment by Jason
  • on: 09/03/2008
"I hope you get to taste some Swiss 'alpage' cheese soon!"So do I! Looks like I'll have to plan a trip for Switzerland. Unfortunately, that is black market cheese in the US, being an unpasteurized product. I'll have to bring plenty of socks and beanie caps for my cheese smuggling operation.
  • #10
  • Comment by Saxit
  • on: 09/03/2008
Simple yet delicious. It's the bacon that makes it though - I don't think I can get bacon like that here in Sweden. Maybe I'll try it with pancetta.
  • #11
  • Comment by Vincent
  • on: 09/03/2008
I just made this with Luter's Smithfield bacon and it was great, although a bit salty.  I will simmer the bacon first the next time I make this.
Thanks for sharing this recipe with us.  Looks so delicious.
  • #13
  • Comment by Gina in California
  • on: 10/03/2008
Just found your site too - I love the step-by-step pictorial instructions with your recipes. And the recipes are nice too - I'll have to try this one soon. Thanks!
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 10/03/2008
Many countries ban unpasteurized cheeses, what a pity. But contraband cheese sounds very tempting - the forbidden cheese of Switzerland!
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 10/03/2008
Saxit, perhaps you might try with guanciale rather than pancetta. I would be surprised if Swedish farmers have never tried to dry bacon slabs with some spices. Are you sure you don't have a native Swedish bacon similar to ours?
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 10/03/2008
Vincent, soaking or simmering the bacon for a couple minute is definitely the way to get rid of excess salt. Just like the Portuguese desalt their dried cod, it takes just a few minutes. Thanks for visiting and trying this!
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 10/03/2008
Hélène thanks for visiting from Vancouver! Have a look at my gluten-free recipes filed under Buckwheat for some more ideas!
  • #18
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 10/03/2008
Gina thanks a lot for visiting and I hope you get to try one of my dishes!
  • #19
  • Comment by Saxit
  • on: 11/03/2008
Maybe I've just been lazy when looking for it. :) And I think guanciale would be even harder to find than dried bacon spiced bacon. :)
It really looks very tasty:). Yummy!
  • #21
  • Comment by Beatrice
  • on: 12/03/2008
Francois, I feel obsolete; your prose is perfect.  I'll never forget looking to buy an ancient farmhouse in Sud Tirol--it had a room devoted to smoking hams, and the entire house reeked of speck!  But with potatoes, it's heaven...
  • #22
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 16/03/2008
Thanks for your visit Roman!
  • #23
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 16/03/2008
Beatrice, thanks for your kind words! I've never visited Süd Tirol but have some books about the food of Trentino Alto Adige. It is so similar to that of my native Swiss canton, Valais. But speck is definitely a delicacy best enjoyed with restraint!
  • #24
  • Comment by Titania
  • on: 16/03/2008
Hi, fxcuisine, fantastic food, and great pictures to show how. Not for the "fooddogooders" who are scared of natural ingredients, like Milk,butter and cheese.  
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 18/03/2008
Titania, thanks for visiting and keep up the good work with the garden! I am trying to grow a camelia sinensis in a wardian case in my kitchen with a very discreet success so far!
Oh, wow, fx, that looks like the speck we always try to bring home from the butcher shop on Kuttelgasse in Zurich... (droool) Spectacular! I should check our cheese place in Dublin and see if they've started carrying any Swiss bergkaese. Thanks so much for posting that!
  • #27
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 24/03/2008
EuroCuisineLady, I think you could to this using some of the many fine native Irish ingredients. Don't you have traditional Irish dried bacon?
FX, it's a strange thing, but Ireland has no tradition of dried bacon. We have a fair amount of smoked bacon, some of it chimney-smoked, but none of it is also airdried the way speck is. I think the problem may be that the humidity of the air in Ireland, even in winter, is just too high to allow good air-drying. So all the local bacon cures are based on brine (sugar cures are just being rediscovered) and the smoking is usually an afterthought, a flavoring rather than a preservative. That said, no question, our potatoes would work well with it.  :)  And we have some new farmhouse cheeses that would melt well. Cooleeney would be nice, for example. Still... I think I prefer bergkaese. Especially if I have to back to Chur, or Leukerbad, to get it.  ;)
  • #29
  • Comment by Maryann
  • on: 02/04/2008
Wow! MUST  TRY  TONIGHT!!!
  • #30
  • Comment by Richard
  • on: 09/04/2008
Francois,

I've had this a couple of times in York Market when we had European farmers market that travels the country. Fabulous. I was only thinking of it again the other day. What serendipity, then, that you published this.

Great hearty food for cold days!

All the best

Richard
  • #31
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/04/2008
Richard, stock up on the Speck next time you see some and you'll be set up to cook this all winter long!
It looks to me like a very wholesome and hearty dish.

I just recently came across your site. Everything looks delicious!
  • #33
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 26/07/2008
Michael, indeed it is a conforting dish provided you get ingredients. I hope you'll have time to check some of my other recipes and perhaps, try one!
Thank you for the invitation. One of these days, I shall try your ragu finto.
  • #35
  • Comment by don siranni
  • on: 11/11/2009
Francois,every time i'm searching for an older post(i.e.,chestnut pie),I always stumble on something else(as this one).    How about--- auctioning off this often seen steel pan??   I know you won't but couldn't resist the idea anyhow.   Don

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