Mi Viaje a Barcelona (Part 2): Patatas Bravas EVERY. DAMN. DAY.

This is a typical conversation between me and the Voice in my Head about potatoes. You know. As you do. 

Voice in my Head: So, Bethany. You just got back from Spain? What did you eat?

Me: Well, Voice in my Head who already knows the answer but who is asking me questions for the conceit of this blog post, clearly you did not read my last post. I ate bread. And much of it. 

Voice in my Head: Wow! They have bread in Spain!

Me: Yep. …Just like in America.

VIMH: What else do they have in Spain that they have in America to eat?

Me: Seriously? You didn’t read the post at all. They have ham.

VIMH: I’m a figment of your imagination. Also, HAM!

Me: …calm down… 

VIMH: And? What ELSE?!

Me: Wow. This was an annoying device to tell this story.

VIMH: And? What ELSE?!

Me: Potatoes.

VIMH: Potatoes?

Me: Potatoes.

VIMH: What kind of potatoes?! 

Me: Patatas bravas.

VIMH: OOOOH. Those sound FANCY.

Me: They’re not fancy. They’re at every regular bar/restaurant in Spain. But my friend Marla and I decided to become connoisseurs and we ate them almost every day. Sometimes twice a day. Because, well, they’re absurdly delicious.

Seriously. And this isn't even all of them.

Seriously. And this isn’t even all of them.

VIMH: What makes them so good? 

Me: Well, they’re fried. 

VIMH: OOOOOH.

Me: Will you just…shut… They’re potatoes that are fried and then covered with a paprika sauce and a garlic aioli. And they’re frankly delicious. 

VIMH: OOOOOH.

Me: I hate you.

VIMH: I get that a lot. How do you make them? 

Me: Well, I don’t know because I’m moving and then going on production so I have not cooked anything and won’t be doing so for awhile. But I’m going to transcribe a recipe I’ve never tried by the great Jose Andres. And then try to cook them….in awhile.

VIMH: Wow. This really is a fake food blog.

Me: I know, right? Also, you’re an asshole.

VIMH: I get that a lot.

Patatas Bravas from Olive Oil from Spain 

 For the brava sauce

  • 6 fresh tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. pimentón (Spanish sweet paprika)
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • Salt to taste

For the allioli sauce | Allioli is Catalan for Aioli which is Italian for Garlic-Olive Oil-Amazing Sauce

  • 1 small egg
  • 1 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

For the potatoes

  • 4 cups Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds Idaho potatoes (about 3-4 large potatoes), peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup allioli (see recipe to follow)
  • 1 bunch chives, finely chopped, for garnish

Preparation: 

Cut each tomato in half lengthwise. Place a grater over a bowl and grate the open side of the tomato into the bowl. Strain the grated flesh through a sieve to produce 2 cups of tomato puree.

To make the brava sauce, pour the 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a small pan and warm over low heat. Add the tomato puree, sugar, bay leaf, pimentón, and cayenne.

Raise the heat to medium and cook until the mixture reduces by 2/3 and becomes a deep red color, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Add the vinegar, add salt to taste, and reserve.

Take a deep and heavy-bottomed pot and pour in the olive oil. Heat to 250°F. Place the potatoes in the oil and poach them, frying them slowly until soft, which normally takes about 10 minutes. The potatoes won’t change color but they will soften all the way through. You can test for softness by inserting a toothpick; if it comes out easily, the potatoes are done.

Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon or a spider and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Raise the temperature of the olive oil to 350°F. Return the potatoes to the pot.

Fry in batches until crispy and brown, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Continue until all the potatoes have been fried.

 Drizzle a little brava sauce on a serving plate. Top with the potatoes, add a dollop of the allioli, and sprinkle with chives.

Allioli a la moderna | Modern garlic and oil sauce

Break the egg into a mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.

Using a hand blender/immersion blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste. Little by little, add what’s left of the olive oil as you continue blending. If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli. The sauce will be a lovely yellow color. Add salt to taste.

** If you do not have access to a hand blender, you can use a hand mixer (the kind with the two beaters) or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you must double the recipe or the amount will be too little for the blades to catch and emulsify.

José’s tips

What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don’t throw it out. You can do two things. One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for a fish or vegetable. But if you want to rescue the allioli, take 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in another container and start adding to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you create the creamy sauce you wanted.

 Bethany’s tips

I told you. I haven’t made this yet. Don’t be a dick. 

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5 thoughts on “Mi Viaje a Barcelona (Part 2): Patatas Bravas EVERY. DAMN. DAY.

  1. Anna says:

    Oh em gee. Patatas bravas are about the best things ever. Can you make these for me once we’re neighbors? 🙂

  2. Meg says:

    Only the Spainairds could make french fries with ketchup and mayo so damn fancy. Also, I got about 1/3rd of the way into the recipe and knew I wouldn’t be making this, so please do when you’re done being uber busy and report back.

  3. megcline says:

    Only the Spainards could make french fries with ketchup and mayo be so damn fancy. Also, I read about 1/3rd of the recipe before I realized I was never going to make this so please go ahead and do it and let me know how it turns out.

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