Cooking With: T Bar Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — You’ve just skied a day of face shots in waist deep powder (figuratively speaking, of course) — ravenous and probably a bit dehydrated in this exhausted state.
The unmarked trailer near the Christie III lift beckons.
Venturing in, aromas from ski destinations like Argentina, Japan, Canada, Italy, Switzerland and more greet you at the door.
Welcome to the T Bar Steamboat, the local five-star dive bar.
A local’s hang out housed in a former ski patrol trailer, here the T Bar characters gather swapping stories of the great, the not so great and then, the snow yet to come.
“If you were to take your favorite ski vacation and you just got done skiing wherever that may be whether it’s Japan, Argentina, Switzerland or wherever that may be, what you would you eat at the bottom of the hill is what we incorporate into our menu,” said Tres Holloway, T Bar owner and operator behind the counter of the open kitchen amongst the fury of the oncoming lunch rush.
With indoor-outdoor seating, order a classic Bloody Mary, one of the local beers on tap at the T Bar is ski-in, ski-out window or fuel up with the empanadas, ramen or hot smoked mozzarella.
Growing up in Steamboat Springs, Holloway got his start in the culinary industry washing dishes at 12 years old at Harwigs. Then he went on to pursue culinary school in Burlington, Vermont, moved to Switzerland for a few years and also worked at a heli-ski operation in Alaska as the director of food and operations. That was all before opening the T Bar nine years ago.
“The creativity aspect and ability to make people happy through your own art is really what stimulates me to continue to pursue the culinary arts and what led me to open the T Bar,” said Holloway, about the family-run establishment he runs with his brother, Coleman Holloway, the sous chef.
Spending time in Europe, Hollowy said has influenced his culinary style, which reflects that of Switzerland with crisp, fresh, flavor profiles.
“People want to be able to eat something that brings them some comfort,” said Holloway.
And to showcase one of the quintessential T Bar items (aside from the locals favorites such as the chorizo mac n cheese, chicken wings or empanadas) Holloway made the popular Swiss Rösti.[swift-jw-player id=”J0TyRw0a”]
“It’s so easy, anybody can make it at home for themselves and it comes out as a wonderful family meal,” said Holloway about the recipe. “Impress your date with it and make a small personal one for somebody. People always find it very impressive. The flavor profile is amazing and it’s great comfort food. But it also pays homage to the traditional ski culture in Europe.”
Swiss Rösti Recipe
- Fresh, dehydrated potatoes reconstituted with water or fresh potatoes where you shred those and then squeeze out the excess water
- Black forest ham or cured thick sliced ham
“We recommend not using sweet Virginia ham because the sugar profile in that throws off the taste of the dish,” said Holloway.
- Gruyere cheese, a Swiss classic cheese
“Don’t short yourself on this cheese, we highly recommend it because it really makes the dish,” said Holloway.
- Soft-boiled eggs
“Which, here at Steamboat’s elevation, to soft-boil the perfect egg it takes seven minutes,” Holloway said.
Quick tip: Bring water to a boil then drop in your egg. Time it to exactly 7 minutes. Take it out of the boiling water then submerge it in to cold water and the shell will come off quickly.
- 1 tbsp. cooking median — Holloway recommends duck fat or high-smoke oil (you can get it at the grocery store or Meat & Seafood Co.). High smoke oils like peanut or soy would also work. “Duck fat is the ultimate cooking median, because it offers the best flavor profile for this dish,” said Holloway.
Start with an exceptionally hot pan, “The key is the hotter the pan, the better the Rösti will come out,” said Holloway.
Add duck fat. Holloway said to wait a second until you see the oil start to move, not smoke. “You will see it actually start to move on the pan – that’s when you know it’s hot enough,” he said.
Add roughly 1 1/2 cup of the potatoes for a 6 inch sautéed pan. For a bigger family-sized portion use a 12 inch pan and make sure the potatoes sit roughly 3/4 inch deep in the pan
Add salt and pepper
Give it about a minute on each side.
Flip your potato and give it roughly another 45 seconds to a minute on the opposite side. At T bar, they serve the Rösti in a cast iron skillets because it keeps the Rösti so hot the potatoes stay warm for up to 20 min.
“If you’re going to do it at home use a cast iron skillet then slice it for your friends like a pie,” said Holloway. In Switzerland a family-style Rösti will be served in an 8 to 12 inch round cast iron pan that will come out like a giant quiche.”
Flip your potatoes then transfer those to a cast iron serving skillet (or baking tray) layer the top in the thick slice black forest ham. Then, cover it with Gruyere cheese – the cheesier the better.
Put it in to broiler for about 30 seconds to melt down the cheese. As soon as you take it out of the broiler add two soft-boiled eggs per person.
Garnish your delicious Rösti with freshly cut scallions.
“That’s it,” said Holloway. “It’s that easy.”
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