Patatas Bravas

Buenos dias!  I went to Spain four times during high school, living with Spanish families for a month each time as part of an exchange program.  At the time I was more interested in drinking Cuarenta y Tres con naranja than sampling the fine [Potatoes photo]cuisine.  But now that I love good food, I really wish I had made more of an effort to try real Spanish food while I was there.  I ate what my host families served each day, but that’s like a Spanish exchange student visiting the U.S. and eating pizza, grilled cheese, spaghetti, and hamburgers and calling it American cuisine.  Plus, the other students and I hit the McDonald’s pretty hard almost every day, so I ate a lot of McPollo sandwiches.

I think the tapas scene is what most people think of when they think Spanish food.  And this recipe is supposedly a tapas dish from Seville.  It would have been great with a Spanish red, but since I made it for lunch on a Saturday, we passed.  Normally I wouldn’t make potatoes the center of a meal, but we had a few vegetables from the farmers market that we needed to use so we just had a bunch of side dishes as our meal.  Hey, that has all the makings of a trendy new style of eating.   Let’s see, they could call it… tapas!

[Grill photo]Erin and I were really happy with these.  In fact I ate way too many.  I just kept popping them in my mouth, even as I was cleaning up.  Ours were just a little bit undercooked; make sure you test a few before you take them off the grill.  And it would have been nice if the sauce were a little more liquidy, so I’ve reduced the simmering time in the recipe that I’m posting.  I give these potatoes 3 cows out of 5, with the potential for 4 if they were cooked fully and the seasonings in the sauce adjusted a bit.

If you’re wondering about the other vegetables in the photo, one is asparagus and the other is beet spinach.  The asparagus I just drizzled [Plate photo]with olive/canola oil and seasoned with salt and pepper before grilling for a few minutes.  For the beet spinach, I heated some oil in a pan, added the spinach to wilt it, then threw in some garlic and lemon juice during the last 30 seconds or so.  This was the first time I had tried beet spinach, and I wasn’t a big fan.  It tasted fine but it was a little crunchier than I would have liked.  I think I’ll stick to regular spinach.  But this is a great way to prepare it.

Last thing:  Usually when I cook from cookbooks, I try to modify the recipe enough to make it my own so that I don’t break any laws in typing it up and posting it here.  But this one I didn’t change at all, since I’d never tried patatas bravas before, so it’s pretty much directly from a cookbook.  Hope those fat cat publishers don’t catch me!  If you log on tomorrow and the blog has mysteriously disappeared, at least you’ll know what happened.

Grilled Patatas Bravas Recipe

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 16-20 medium-small new potatoes, scrubbed
  • Paprika
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • a few pinches of crushed red pepper
  • 4 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup pureed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper

Cover the potatoes in a saucepan with an inch or two of water.  Bring to a boil, then cook until they’re very close to being tender (a fork or skewer should go through without much effort).  Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic; saute for 3 minutes until softened.  Add the red pepper (as much as you like), tomatoes, wine, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

Heat your grill to high.  Drain the potatoes and rinse, dry and cut each into halves or quarters, depending on how large they are (you don’t want them to fall through the grill grates).  Brush the potatoes with the remaining oil and sprinkle paprika over them.  Grill for 5-6 minutes, turning often.

Pour the sauce over the tomatoes in a dish, adjust seasonings and garnish with more parsley.



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  1. Thanks for visiting my blog – I’m a vegan marathoner, and my husband will run his first marathon in July (he’s a vegan as well). My best friend is a vegetarian-mostly vegan marathoner.

    Anyway, its easy to be a superb athlete on a plant based diet.

    I think you should change your blog name, though — since you still eat meat…

    • Thanks for commenting! Like you say, I have confidence that this new diet will actually make me a better marathoner, not a worse one. You vegans really impress me! Also, I’ve thought about the name thing before, but I just like it too much to change (“very little meat athlete” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it). But I don’t feel too bad, because a) a lot of people don’t consider fish meat (I do, though), and b) I’m eating so much less fish now than when I started this diet just a month ago, and can see myself going fully vegetarian soon enough.

  2. christine says:

    I don’t have a grill and usually throw a cast-iron pan in the broiler. Would the cooking time be about the same for that? Should I preheat the pan?

  3. Hmm I really don’t know about that. The broiler provides heat only from the top, right? If so then I’d definitely preheat the pan. For cooking time you probably should just keep checking it. Any real chefs want to chime in?

  4. christine says:

    I made these last night! We ate them with olive quinoa and smokey portabellas. They were great! I cooked them in a cast iron pan under the broiler like I said before. I preheated the pan by boiling water in it first (really just to clean it since it sits out on my stove all the time.) It took a bit longer than on the grill- about 10 mins per side for them to get brown blisters.

    The sauce was great too, nice and spicy but with the wine underneath to balance it. I’m going to give them a 3 out of 5 cows. This is something I’ll definitely make again. It will get 4 cows I think using the grill instead of indoor cooking.

  5. I made these last night. Delicious. I added green beans, took a photo, and posted a link to your recipe on my blog. Thank you for the good food.

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