“Bravo” is a Spanish word that can mean brave (as in courageous), but also wild, rough, or spirited, as in the name of the rough coastline near Barcelona (Costa Brava). And so Patatas Bravas could literally be translated as potatoes with spirit. This tapas dish of spicy potatoes is very popular, and there are many versions. The potatoes can be boiled, roasted, or fried. The sauce can be made with or without tomatoes, but it should always include spicy paprika (otherwise it wouldn’t be “brava”). Although it should always be a little spicy, you can tune the spiciness to your own liking. Sometimes patatas bravas are served with aioli to cool down the heat.
To get potatoes that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, I use starchy potatoes and parboil them before frying. You could also parcook them in oil, but that would make them more greasy.
For 6 servings
1.5 kilos (3.3 lbs) potatoes, preferably starchy
400 grams (14 oz) chopped ripe tomatoes (from a can is fine)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh red chilli pepper, preferably guindilla
1 tsp sugar (optional)
pinch of powdered saffron
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp spicy smoked paprika, or to taste
oil for frying
Peel the potatoes and cut them into bite-size pieces. Put them in a pot and barely cover with water. Season with salt.
Cover, bring to a boil, and when the water boils lower the heat such that it keeps boiling gently. Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes so they are starting to get tender but are not falling apart.
…and allow to cool on kitchen paper. When they have cooled to room temperature, transfer to the refrigerator to cool them even further.
To make the sauce, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and add a chopped onion. Season with salt.
Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is soft and slightly golden, about 10 minutes.
Add 2 minced cloves of garlic and a red chilli pepper. Stir for a minute over medium heat.
Depending on how hot you like it, you can choose to remove the seeds or to add the chilli whole and remove it before blending.
Add 2 teaspoons of sweet smoked paprika and hot smoked paprika to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon).
Stir over low heat for a minute so the paprika doesn’t burn.
Add 400 grams of chopped tomatoes…
…and a tablespoon of sherry vinegar.
Bring to a simmer, and then…
…allow to simmer over low heat, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.
Add powered saffron.
Blend the sauce until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, sugar, and spicy paprika.
Deep fry the potatoes in oil of 180C/350F until they are golden brown.
Allow the potatoes to drain on paper towels and blot them dry with paper towels to remove excess oil.
Serve the potatoes with the spicy sauce.
Lamb with peas and mint are a classic combination. By deboning the lamb shank it becomes more fancy and it allows you to make a sauce from the bones.