Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas is a Spanish tapas dish, of fried potato, with a spicy sauce.

Having decided to have a go at patatas bravas, I needed a recipe. Step forward Felicity Cloake and her How to cook the perfect… in the Guardian. I’m starting to think it’s probably worth buying a digital subscription. It would be worth it just for her column alone, let alone all the Yotam Ottolenghi and Anna Jones recipes too; it’s a great resource.

I followed the recipe, with a couple of changes. I don’t have any sherry vinegar for instance, so used red wine vinegar instead. I also hadn’t bothered to buy any chives. Other than that, it was straight down the line.

Having grown a few chillies this year, I decided to use one. I should’ve used more than one, as it turns out that they’re not as hot as last year. The tomato sauce had no heat to it what so ever. Which meant that it tasted very similar to the rich tomato sauce from The Geometry of Pasta.

Where the tomato sauce had been distinctly lacking any zing, the aioli had enough zing to raise the dead. It also made a lot. By a lot, I mean enough to slather on double the recipe and still feel like you’ve overdone it a bit.

This all made for a bit of a disappointing dish. Lacklustre tomato sauce, overly pokey and rich aioli, I was struggling to see why people rave about it.

Patatas Bravas, first attempt

In a twist of fate, I ended up having to buy another bag of Charlotte potatoes. So decided to have another crack at the recipe a few days later. I decided to change a few things.

Out when the homegrown chilli and in came homegrown chilli flakes, I know they’re hot. Rather than roasting the tatties at 200°C, I followed Yotam’s method for the potatoes in his Batata Harra recipe; so 240°C to get them good and crispy.

I also cooked the tomato sauce for longer, really reducing it to intensify the flavour and make it thicker. As I mentioned above, there was a lot of aioli left over, so I didn’t have to make any more of that.

This was almost a different dish. The heat and spiciness of the tomato sauce, the crunch of the tatties and the cool of the aioli. I can see why people rave about it.

I’ll definitely be making this again. Just have to think of a few other veggie tapas dishes to go with it…

Leftovers

Refried bean hash browns...

An attempt at some sort of refried bean hash browns.

Using up leftovers always reminds me of why I follow recipes. Take the photo above as an example, it doesn’t look very appetizing does it? I had some leftovers to use up and as I like potatoes, I decided to have an attempt at some sort of hash browns, with the addition of some leftover beans. I’ve not really attempted hash browns before, as I’m still trying to cook a decent rösti. There appears to be so many different ways to make hash browns, that it feels like it’s just a make it up as you go along type of thing, which isn’t really isn’t my kind of cooking at all.

Having decided to give them a go, I parboiled some tatties and left them to dry out a bit. I then cubed them and added them to a frying pan that had some melted butter and olive oil in it. After a liberal sprinkling of sweet smoked paprika and the addition of the beans, it was just a case of moving everything around the pan to stop it sticking and burning. I paired these with some avocado and sour cream on the side and they were nice enough, in that they filled a hole.

If I do them again, I’ll be using a non-stick frying pan, as then I wont have to stand over it for the entire cooking process to ensure it doesn’t catch. I’ll also parboiled the tatties for a bit longer, as it took awhile for them to cook all the way through. In fact, I might just be best to cook them all the way through the night before and leave them in the fridge, but then that would require some sort of forward planning. I might have to start experimenting a bit more with this kind of thing though, as the variations appear endless.