Saturday, February 20, 2010

Patatas Bravas - Roasted Potatoes with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Aioli

I'm always on the lookout for new side dishes or light entrees. Sure, local and seasonal veggies, prepared simply with good ingredients, are always delicious, but sometimes I just want something a little different. And while crispy oven-roasted potatoes are always a good idea, sometimes more actually IS better, as is the case with these - patatas bravas, a Spanish potato dish.

Take delicious, crispy, oven roasted potatoes, blanched and then roasted at a high temp with olive oil, salt and pepper to get all golden brown and delicious. Good, right? Then add a slow-simmered tomato sauce, enriched with spicy red pepper and an unexpected but welcome hit of cumin. Mmmm, even better. Now cut the acidity and spiciness with some creamy, garlicky aioli, and you've got the world's best side starch, or an awesome light lunch with some blanched or roasted veggies like haricot vert or zucchini, or with a nice crisp salad.

You can make your own aioli from scratch if you want, but since there's just 2 of us in the house, and batch of homemade mayo makes a lot and doesn't keep for that long, I tend to just fake it by adding stuff to good quality store-bought mayo.

Patatas Bravas
adapted from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen

Faked Aioli

1/2 cup store-bought mayo
1 TB fresh lemon juice
2 fresh garlic cloves, crushed (use a garlic press for best results)
1-2 TB fruity olive oil
1 TB water
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. This tastes better if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to meld flavors.


1 1/2 lbs waxy potatoes (I used Yukon Golds), cut into 1-1.5" pieces, or small wedges
1-2 TB Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with enough water to go 1 1/2" above your potatoes. Add a scant tablespoon of salt. Turn heat to high, cover, and once boiling, cook your potatoes for about 6-7 minutes (they should still be very firm). Thoroughly dry, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and roast in a single layer in the oven at 425 for about 30 minutes, or until nice and crispy, turning two or three times.

Spicy Tomato Sauce

4 tsp olive oil
1 small white or yellow onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes in their liquid
2 tsp white vinegar
1 pinch sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and sweat until softened, but not browned, 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, and red pepper, and stir for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 1/2 cup water and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and cook on low heat until thick, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and sugar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cook, and transfer to a blender or food processor to puree; alternatively, puree with a hand blender. Serve immediately, or sauce keeps up to a week in the fridge, but also freezes well for a few months in an airtight container. This makes more than you will need for the potatoes, but I sure don't complain about that...

To Serve: Plate the potatoes, and top with a generous amount of sauce, and a small amount of aoili. Consume happily.

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