I am making Spanish tri-tip for Miriam’s birthday dinner. Spanish flavored meat calls for Spanish patatas bravas—roasted potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce. As served in Spain as a tapas, small chunks of potato are deep fried and the tomato sauce is poured over them. More modern—and fat conscious—recipes call for roasting the potatoes and then roasting them a second time after tossing them with the spicy sauce—producing a dryer, tomato-crusted tapas.
The major spice component of this dish is Pimentón de la Vera, Spanish smoked paprika. This spice is made from pimiento peppers, which can be either mild or hot. The dulce—sweet—paprika is about the same heat as Hungarian sweet paprika. The picante—hot—version is quite spicy, use the Pimentón de la Vera Pecante with caution—the first time I use it, before I knew the difference, a teaspoon produced a dish that was too hot for even my “fire eaters” to handle.
Karl’s Patatas Bravas
2 pounds Dutch gold potatoes
2 Tbs. olive oil
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ cup yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. Pimentón de la Vera Dulce (smoked Spanish paprika mild)
½ tsp. Pimentón de la Vera Pecante (smoked Spanish paprika hot) or cayenne
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white sugar
¼ cup Spanish dry sherry, separate uses
1 large beefsteak tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, separate uses
1. Cut the potatoes into 1 to 1½-inch chunks.
Tip: Leave the skins on.
2. In a large bowl toss the potatoes with the oil to coat.
3. Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle them with the salt.
4. Roast the potatoes at 375º F for 50 minutes, until they are starting to get spotty and browned.
Tip: Half way through the roasting time, rotate the pan and flip the potatoes over—to ensure even browning.
Note: The sides of the potato chunks that are resting on the pan will brown faster than the sides simply exposed to the hot air of the oven. If you leave the potatoes un-flipped that side of the potato may burn before the rest of the sides are browned.
5. While the potatoes are roasting, sauté the onions in a medium pan until soft, about 5 minutes.
6. Pull the onions to the sides of the pan and sauté the garlic in the hole in the center until fragrant, about one minute.
Note: Miriam is “off” garlic and onions at the moment. To accommodate her needs, I cooked these aromatics in a separate pan. I then added them to the sauce after I had reserved some of it for her. This recipe is written as if I had not done that.
7. Add the tomato paste to the garlic and continue cooking until the paste has darkened, another 2-3 minutes.
8. Mix the onions into the garlic and tomato paste and pull the vegetables to the sides of the pan.
Tip: This step greatly enhances the flavor.
10. Deglaze the pan with a splash of sherry and add ¾ of the tomatoes.
Note: I prefer a smooth sauce with some chunks of tomato. My plan was to blend the sauce and then add the remaining tomatoes to the sauce to give it just a bit of texture.
11. Simmer until the tomatoes have softened, about five minutes.
12. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cook slightly.
13. Put the tomatoes and onion mixture into a standing blender and process until smooth.
Tip: If you prefer and want a more rustic sauce you may use a hand blender to process the sauce.
14. Return the sauce to the pan.
Tip: Use the remaining sherry to rinse out the blender and add this to the tomatoes.
15. Add the reserved tomatoes to the pan and continue simmering until the sauce has started to thicken, about another 10 minutes.
Tip: If your sauce is still too thin for your liking—you want it thick enough to stick well to the potatoes—you may add a teaspoon of ¼ teaspoon of corn starch mixed with ¾ teaspoon water. Continue simmering until thickened, about 1 minute.
16. Remove the potatoes from the oven and toss them with the tomato sauce to coat.
17. Return the potatoes to the roasting pan and switch the oven’s heating element to broil.
18. Broil the potatoes on the middle rack for about 10 minutes—until the sauce drys out a bit on the potatoes and becomes slightly spotty with caramelization.
19. Serve the potatoes warm with any remaining tomato sauce on the side.