2 pounds yellow fleshed potatoes, parboiled, peeled and grated (for best results, boil the potatoes one day, or at least several hours, in advance, until just done and still firm, then chill them or they will be impossible to grate)

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons clarified butter, duck fat or vegetable oil, plus more as needed

4 to 6 eggs, at room temperature

6 slices smokes salmon (about 8 ounces)

1 cup crème fraiche or sour cream

snipped chives, for garnish

watercress, for garnish


1.   Using the large holes in a box grater, shred the parboiled potatoes onto a baking sheet (try not to mash them.)  Season with salt and pepper.

2.   Place a 9 inch cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter.  When the butter is hot, use a spatula to transfer all the grated potatoes to the skillet.  Let the potatoes begin to brown, then turn down the heat to medium.  Press down lightly with the spatula to form a thick cake.  Let potato fry gently until the bottom is browned and crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Shake the pan to make sure the cake isn’t sticking; loosen with a spatula if necessary.

3.   Lay a plate over the uncooked side of the cake and carefully invert the cake onto the plate, crisp side up.  Return the skillet to the stove, add a little more butter to the pan as necessary, and slip the cake back in, uncooked side down.

4.   Fry gently for another 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp on the second side.  Remove from heat and slide (or invert) the cake onto a cutting board.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and keep warm.

5   Poach the eggs:  Fill a wide skillet halfway with water.  Add a good pinch of salt and brig to a gently simmer.  Break each egg into a teacup. Then carefully slip it beneath the water’s surface.  Cook for 2 minutes, until the eggs are barely set, then turn off the heat.  (Leave the eggs in hot water to finish cooking while you prepare the plates.)

6.   Cut the rosti into wedges and divide among the plates.  Drape a slice of smoked salmon next to each wedge.  Remove eggs one by one with a slotted spoon (holding a towel beneath spoon to catch excess water), and place on other side of each wedge.

7.   Top each wedge with a dollop of crème fraiche.  Garnish with a sprinkle of chives and a sprig of watercress.

from David Tanis, the New York Times

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