I am making Caldeirada—Portuguese fish stew—for wife Jan’s Burner friends. This soup sometimes contains potatoes, but I decided to make a second dish Patatas bravas—roasted potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce—with the potatoes. A pickled cucumber and tomato salad and bread from a Portuguese bakery round out the meal.
The original recipe calls for small chunks of potato to be deep fried and a tomato sauce is then poured over them. I adapted the recipe to reduce the oil used by boiling the potatoes and then broiling them. After tossing the the crisped potatoes with the spicy sauce I broiled them a second time—producing a leaner, dryer, tomato-crusted patatas bravas. Jan is pushing me to add more vegetables in my dishes, so I am adding fresh cilantro to the dish as a finishing touch.
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.
Karl’s Patatas Bravas II
3 pounds Dutch gold potatoes
1 Tbs. Kosher salt
4 Tbs. olive oil, separate uses
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely diced
½ tsp. Kosher salt
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 can (14.5 oz.) fire roasted tomatoes
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
¼ cup Spanish dry sherry
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1. Rinse and pare any bad spots from the potatoes..
Tip: Leave the skins on.
2. Bring a large pot to a boil with the tablespoon of salt.
Note: While this may seem like a lot of salt, most of it will go down the drain.
3. Simmer the potatoes until tender, 20-30 minutes.
Tip: Poke the largest chunk of potato with a knife to test for tenderness—it should slip in easily.
Note: It is not vital that the potatoes are cooked through at this point. You want them just almost done.
4. Drain, dry and smash the potatoes with the back of a heavy spoon or meat tenderizer—flat side.
Tip: You are not trying to make mashed potatoes, you merely want to crack the skins slightly.
Note: The potatoes will end up slightly flattened.
5. In a large bowl toss the potatoes with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, to coat.
6. Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer.
7. Broil the potatoes 2 inches from the heating element for 15-20 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.
8. While the potatoes are roasting, sauté the onions with the salt in a large pan until soft, about 5 minutes.
9. Pull the onions to the sides of the pan and sauté the garlic and tomato paste on separate sides of the hole in the center until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
10. Mix the garlic into the onions and pull the vegetables to the sides of the pan again,
11. Add the paprikas and sugar to the hole in the center of the pan.
13. Add the can of fire roasted tomatoes and scrape the fond off the bottom of the pan.
14. Stir in the can of tomato sauce and the sherry.
15. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, about five 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 with the sauce to the roasting pan.
18. Broil the potatoes on the middle rack for another 5-10 minutes—until the sauce dries out a bit on the potatoes and becomes slightly spotty with caramelization.
19. Toss the potatoes with most of the cilantro and transfer to a serving bowl.
Tip: Reserve some of the cilantro for a garnish.
20. Garnish the potatoes with the remaining cilantro and serve warm.