Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Patatas Bravas - Spanish Spicy Potatoes
Patatas Bravas are often served with another traditional dish, the "torta," which is an egg dish somewhat similar to a frittata or scrambled eggs but heartier. It is not unusual for both to be served at room temperature and enjoyed with a glass of young local red wine or even a fine Rioja.
There are as many variations on Patatas Bravas as there are Spanish tapas bars and restaurants, with each one claiming to be the best, of course. Many call for tomatoes and sometimes are served in a tomato sauce, while other versions are spice-crusted and served "dry" with a garlic mayonnaise dipping sauce similar to aioli.
Here's a simple version of traditional spicy Spanish potatoes that's packed with fiery flavor and has great texture.
2 Tbs pure or virgin olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
5 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón)
1 Tbs hot sauce (the original Tabasco Sauce works well for a tangy, medium heat)
1/2 tsp (or to taste) Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
Optional garnishes: Freshly squeezed lemon juice, Kosher or coarse sea salt, chopped fresh parsley
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, until it starts to shimmer (be careful not to reach the smoking point). Add the potato cubes in a single layer and fry until browned and partly cooked through (about 10-15 minutes), turning only once or twice with a spatula.
Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor just enough to break up -- do not puree (alternatively, place the tomatoes in a large bowl and use a fork or potato masher to break up the chunks, which is what I like to do). Place the tomatoes, garlic, onion, sugar, spices, hot sauce and salt to taste in a large bowl and combine thoroughly.
Once the potatoes have browned, add the tomato mixture to the pan and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are cooked through (about 5 to 10 minutes), stirring often to prevent burning. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with drizzled lemon juice, a little Kosher salt or coarse sea salt, and chopped parsley.