Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Patatas Bravas (Potatoes with Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Whenever I go back home are several places I always visit: my dental hygenist, my favorite hair dresser, my family and friends' homes, and La Luna. La Luna is a small restaurant and bar in my hometown of Majadahonda, Madrid which I've been frequenting since I was about sixteen. They used to market themselves as a crêperie, although they recently changed ownership so I'm not sure what their specialty is these days. However, I think they stand out thanks to their rendition of patatas bravas*, a Spanish classic.

My love for their patatas bravas, or fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce, has become a joke amongst my friends. When my arrival in the homeland draws near, they tell me they've instructed Andreita (our favorite waitress) to start mass production in preparation for a bravas-deprived Sara. In spite of this generous lead time, the potatoes always take too long to come out of the kitchen. In their defense, I fell like any length of time is too long when I've been waiting months. When the patatas bravas finally make an appearance at our table, with an accompanying bread basket, our forks are ready to attack. We dig in, washing down the spiciness with some cold beer and, in between bites, raise our glasses to great friends who always watch your back and your stomach.

Why it's taken me this long to bring this little taste of home to my kitchen dumbfounds me. A couple weeks ago I decided I needed to make my own version of this tapa and I started looking into how other people do so. I should have known that, this being such a traditional appetizer, there'd be about a million ways to make patatas bravas. Most of them require boiling and then frying the potatoes. I baked them instead because, as some of you know, I hate cleaning the mess that comes with frying. Baking also has the added bonus of making them a bit healthier. As for the sauce, I've seen recipes of varying complexity. I opted to keep it really simple and I'm happy to report the result was still delicious.

What are some food stops you absolutely must make when you're close to home?

Patatas Bravas (Potatoes with Spicy Tomato Sauce)
Makes about 4 servings of potatoes and about 1 3/4 cups of sauce
  • 2 lbs / 907 g yellow-fleshed potatoes (I used Yukon Gold), cut into about 3/4 inch / 2 cm die (my potatoes are more like semi-die, as you can see in the picture)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 15 oz / 425 g can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2-1 1/2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper or hot sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C.  Put the potatoes on a baking pan, drizzle them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, flipping them about half way through, or until brown on some sides and tender on the inside.
2.  Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the paprika and the cayenne and toast for a minute or so. Pour in the tomatoes and the salt, stirring to combine. Let the sauce bubble for about 5-10 minutes or until heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
3.  Once the potatoes are done, take them out of the oven and pour a generous quantity of sauce over them. Enjoy with a cold beverage and have some bread handy to sop up any extra sauce.

No comments:

Post a Comment