Patatas Bravas Recipe
Patatas bravas are probably the most popular tapas dish in the world but being truthful a lot of Spanish bars and restaurants in the UK get it so wrong when preparing them. In Spain, purists of bravas see Madrid as the mecca or capital of patatas bravas and in particular, a bar called Docamar located in Quintana, who have specialised in these fiery fried potatoes for over half a century and sell over 1.5 tonnes of potatoes every weekend.The two key ingredients to a good plate of patatas bravas are the potatoes and the bravas sauce. Always use fresh potatoes and choose a variety that is neither too wet nor too dry. I tend to use Russet or Maris Piper. A potato that is too wet has a low solids content and will tend to have a waxy, soggy texture when fried. Potatoes that are too dry tend to be too hard and crunchy when fried. The potatoes are always cut into irregular chunks of about 1 to 1.5 inches and fried in two stages. The first stage is on a low heat to cook the potatoes and the second stage is on a high heat to brown them on the outside and make them crispy.
Authentic bravas sauce is not fully made out of a spicy tomato sauce but instead it is made from a velouté sauce made with onions, garlic, spicy paprika, flour, fresh tomatoes and chicken stock. The sauce needs to be spicy but without being too hot. It can be made in advance and served in a bottle, just like Docamar do, so your guests can pour as much or as little bravas sauce as they want. You can also make it in advance and freeze it.
- 4 large Maris Piper potatoes, peeled
- Olive oil for frying
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ dried guindilla chilli
- 20g plain flour
- 1 tsp of spicy smoked paprika
- 1 tsp of sweet smoked paprika
- 1 large beef tomato, finely chopped
- 250ml hot chicken stock
- A splash of sherry vinegar
- A pinch of caster sugar
- Salt to taste
- To make the bravas sauce, heat the oil in a medium size saucepan and add the chopped garlic, onions and bay leaf and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes until soft. Add the cumin powder, two paprikas and guindilla chilli and cook for 10 seconds being careful not to burn the spices. Add the flour, mix it well and cook the paste for a couple of minutes on a low heat. Add the hot chicken stock, a little at a time, whisking the mixture well. Once the sauce is well blended, increase the heat and bring the sauce to the boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Season the sauce with salt, sugar and a splash of sherry vinegar. Allow the sauce to cool down before decanting into a bottle.
- For the potatoes, heat the oil in a fryer or frying pan making sure you have enough oil to cover all the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into irregular chunks of about 1 to 1.5 inches thick and pat dry with some kitchen towel. If you don’t have a thermometer, use a potato chunk, and as it starts to float and fry the temperature should be about 140°C, which is perfect for blanching. Use a large metal sieve to gently lower the potatoes into the pan for around 8 minutes, or until soft but not coloured, then remove to a tray to cool. Turn the heat up under the oil and return one blanched potato chunk to the oil as a guide again. Once it’s floating and golden the temperature should be about 180°C, which is perfect for frying and will give you crispy potatoes with a fluffy middle. Drain, season with salt and serve on small plates with the bottle of bravas sauce on the side.