I could live on potatoes and cheese, I think—or bread and cheese, pasta and cheese… anything and cheese, provided it’s the buttery, meltable kind. So when the folks from Jarlsberg asked if I’d be wiling to come up with another way to use their creamy, nutty cheese, I was more than happy to oblige. This is one of the best parts of my job.
Since Jarlsberg is a Swiss style cheese, I thought I’d make a rösti—a substantial potato pancake, crispy on the top and bottom, and in this case stuffed with melty Jarlsberg. If you’re not familiar with it, you may recognize the yellow patterned rind—Jarlsberg came to be in a small Norwegian village called Ås in the fifties, as a group of students conducted experiments using various cheesemaking techniques typically used with Gouda and Emmental. Because it’s so creamy and meltable, it’s fantastic in fondue and mac & cheese, and really anything you’d like to be a bit gooey. It’s fab on a burger, in a croque monsieur, and any of those melty cheese dips with artichokes, crab, or spinach. But! Check out this rösti.
The great thing about a rösti is that it can act as a vehicle for all kinds of rogue bits from your fridge that doesn’t amount to much on its own—a bit of ham, for example, or sausage, or roasted veggies. If you’re the type to keep a ramekin of bacon drippings or roasted chicken or beef fat in your fridge, here’s a way to use it. But the cheese in the middle—it’s glorious, particularly as a means of melding two toasty, crispy layers. We ate it with a roasted chicken, but really when I plopped the cutting board down on the kitchen table, everyone ate directly off it with forks before I even managed to carve the bird.
The tricky part with rösti is flipping it, but you’ll get the hang of it (I promise this rösti won’t be your last!), and the good news is, it’s all aesthetic—if you miss or it slides off the plate or somehow comes apart (which it’s less likely to do with its gooey cheese glue), slide it back into the pan, keep on going, and it will taste every bit as delicious.
This is a substantial rösti, enough to serve a large group (although most of this one was devoured by my sister and I), but you could halve the quantities and cook it in a smaller skillet. The great thing about rösti (besides its affinity to cheese) is that you can totally wing it, without worrying about ingredient ratios or measuring anything. And really, it’s just as easy to make a larger one… how impressive would this look on your Thanksgiving table, or alongside a Sunday roast? Or for brunch on the weekend, topped with an egg? With bits of bacon or other cured meat tossed in with the grated potato… you can see the possibilities here.
Huge thanks to Jarlsberg for being so delicious and versatile that I had a tough time narrowing my ideas down to just one, and for letting me do my thing here while supporting this site.