Saturday, April 19, 2014

52WoC Week 13: Potatoes - Patatas Bravas

One of my favorite places in the world is a great dive bar - almost pitch black, smells a little bit off, and sells PBR tall boys for $3. This is my ideal drinking situation, it's almost perfect. There is one thing that takes you from great dive bar to best dive bar: free popcorn. The best dive bars are the ones that have a rundown seedy popcorn machine in the corner turning out the salty snack all night long. And while popcorn makes every dive bar better, I've come to the realization it is not the greatest drinking snack of all time. No, that title belongs to patatas bravas.

Patatas bravas are the default of any tapas bar. They are fried potatoes that have been lightly seasoned and are typically served with a nice aioli - think of them as a Spanish home fry. I love these salty potatoes and cannot get enough of them, especially when libations are involved. My recipe doesn't involve frying (cause I'm lazy) but still produces a crunchy potato with a velvety center. To achieve this, I use a two step process. First the potatoes are boiled and then they are baked. Boiling the potatoes before baking them helps ensure the insides of the potatoes will be nice and fluffy while the exterior gets a nice crust. Think of it as a spa day for the potatoes, just chilling in the jacuzzi before getting their cook on.

Patatas Bravas

Qty Ingredient Procedure
1 quart water
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F
  2. Combine the water, vinegar, and salt in a big pot and bring to a boil.
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp white vinegar
3-4 medium potatoes
  1. Dice potatoes into 1 inch cubes.
  2. Add to boiling water. Cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Drain and dry.
1/3 cup olive oil
  1. Combine the spices and the oil and toss the potatoes in the mixture.
  2. Place on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tbsp Hungarian paprika
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika

Start by bringing your water, vinegar, and salt to a boil. The purpose of the vinegar is to prevent the outsides of the potatoes from getting mushy. This is a trick I saw over at Serious Eats and have been using for all of my boiled potatoes. It helps keep them from crumbling away. While waiting for your water to boil, cut your potatoes into 1 inch cubes. You want these to be on the meatier side, these aren't meant for a hash. Throw them into the water and boil until tender, roughly 7-10 minutes. Be careful when checking tenderness - since the vinegar keeps the exterior nice and firm, they may seem under cooked but they really aren't. If you can insert a knife into the center with little resistance you're good to go. Drain the potatoes and dry thoroughly. If you're potatoes aren't dry, the oil will slide right off of them.

Preheat your oven to 450°F. Combine the oil, cayenne, and paprikas. I like using two paprikas solely because I think all smoked paprika can be a tad strong. You can easily just one paprika if you don't have a collection of paprika at home1. Toss the potatoes in the oil and spices. Place on a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 until golden brown flipping about halfway through. Traditionally patatas bravas are served with a nice aioli but most of the time I'm too lazy to make one from scratch so I served mine with a bootleg aioli2.

  1. If you don't have a collection of paprika, you're dead to me.  
  2. Aioli is just a garlic mayonnaise so I combine 1-2 cloves of finely chopped garlic to 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and add a splash of lemon juice. Let this set in the fridge for 12 hours or so and you've got some bootleg aioli. 

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