In Spain, Patatas Bravas is a key tapas dish. The pan-fried potato cubes are traditionally served with Salsa Brava, a fiery sauce flavored with Pimentón de la Vera, the smoked red peppers from La Vera in the Extremadura region. Instead of frying, I roast the potatoes. It’s less of a hassle in the kitchen.
Yield: 4 appetizer servings
Time: 30 minutes
- 2 lbs (1 kg) Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled and cut into 1 inch (2,5 cm) pieces
- sea salt
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil, plus extra for the roasting pan
- 10 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp Pimentón Dulce (Spanish smoked sweet paprika) or sweet paprika, to taste
- 1 tsp Pimentón Picante (Spanish smoked hot paprika) or 1/4 tsp cayenne, to taste
- 1 cup (240 ml) chicken broth, or more as needed
- 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar or white balsamic vinegar, to taste
Paprika de la Vera is made from red pepper varieties grown in the La Vera community near the town of Cáceres in Spain’s Extremadura. Paprika de la Vera has a smoky flavor and aroma due to the smoke-drying process of the peppers. Its color is bright red. There is a mild version, Pimentón Dulce and a hot version, Pimentón Picante. They are available nowadays in the US in well-stocked supermarkets like Publix and Whole Foods as well as online. In Europe, they are quite common and appreciated for giving a peppery and slightly smokey touch to dishes.
Preheat oven to 450° F/230° C.
Blot the potatoes pieces dry with kitchen towels. Season them well with salt. Let them sit for a few minutes to absorb the salt. Add potatoes to a bowl with the olive oil and the unpeeled garlic cloves. Toss them well to make sure they are well oiled. Be generous with the oil. They should look rather drenched than too dry. Drizzle some extra oil on the bottom of the roasting pan. Transfer potatoes and garlic to a roasting pan and spread them into a not crowded single layer. Use 2 pans if necessary. Place pan on the middle shelf of the oven and roast for about 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are browned on the bottom side. Reduce oven temperature to 400° F/200° C. Turn potato pieces on the other side with kitchen tongs and continue to roast for 15 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender inside and crispy outside.
While the potatoes are roasting, make the Salsa Brava. Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and let it cook for 1-2 minutes without browning. It should not burn. Add the flour and whisk it well. Let the mixture sizzle. Add tomato paste, pimenton dulce and pimenton picante. Stir well until all ingredients are amalgamated. Add the chicken broth gradually while stirring all the time until the sauce starts to thicken. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, add the vinegar and cook for 5 minutes longer. If sauce thickens too quickly, add more broth and continue cooking until it has reached the desired consistency. Adjust the seasonings.
Remove potatoes from the oven. Pierce them with the tip of a knife to check for doneness. Transfer to kitchen towels to absorb residual oil. Keep them warm until ready to serve. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and serve with the Salsa Brava on the side. Buen Provecho!