February 6, 2013

Patatas Bravas w/ Red Pepper Aoili

In continuation of my Spanish Inspired Tapas menu, I have decided to include one of the most common items found in  bars around Spain.  Patatas bravas is a dish native to Spain, often served as a "tapa" in bars. It typically consists of white potatoes that have been cut into bite sized pieces and then fried in oil and served warm with a sauce such as a spicy tomato sauce or a Spanish mayonnaise, or aoli. Similar to what we Americans eat as "french fries."
The potatoes are boiled in salted vinegar  water for several minutes to tenderize them. THE VINEGAR ENABLES THE POTATOES TO KEEP THEIR SHAPE WHILE BOILING.  They are then rubbed dry and deep fried.
Preparations of the accompanying sauce varies by city.
In Burgos, the sauce is tomato-based, and also includes vinegar, red pepper, and a variety of spices which give it bite. Often the spicy  sauce also accompanies aoli, a dip prepared with mayonnaise and garlic.
In Valencia and Catalonia, the potatoes are covered in a sauce made of olive oil, red pepper, paprika, chili sauce, and vinegar. In these areas, the dish is traditionally served alongside the aoli.

Serve Patatas on a platter with the bravas sauce on one side, and the aoli on the other.  These will be served during the tapas carne/vegetariano course

The following recipe for Patatas bravas is my take on the classic.  


  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large Russet potatoes, parboiled, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
 Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 quarts water. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.


  1. Heat 2-inches pure olive oil or canola oil in a large high-sided, heavy-bottomed skillet until it begins to shimmer.
  2. Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown on all sides.
  3. Remove the potatoes to a paper towel-lined plate for a moment to drain the excess oil. 
  4. Place the potatoes on the pan in the oven in an even layer and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan and season the potatoes with a bit more salt. 
  5. Pile potatoes in a large bowl, drizzle with aoli and  sprinkle with paprika and scallions.
Brava sauce: 

1⁄2 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, 
1 1⁄2 tsp. red wine
1 tsp. hot smoked paprika 
1⁄4 tsp. sugar
1 serrano chile, minced
Kosher salt, to taste

  1. Combine ingrdients  in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat through.  Season to taste.   
  3. Puree.
  4. Season with salt, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
*Sometime I make an aoli with homemade mayonnaise (egg, lemon, oil) but at other times (like now) I use a good store bought mayo.  

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, drained, patted dry
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1.  Finely chop the garlic in the food processor.
  2. Add the peppers and blend until almost smooth.
  3.  Blend in the mayonnaise.
  4. With the machine running, blend in the oil.
  5. Season the aoli, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the aoli to a small bowl.
(The aoli can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

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