Patatas Bravas (Fierce Potatoes)

Gluten Free · Vegan Friendly · Vegetarian

15 Sept · Written by Raquel Jones


HISTORY & INTERESTING FACTS


Patatas Bravas, a beloved tapas dish in Spain, ranks among my all-time favorite Spanish snacks and sides. However, a word of caution: these little gems are utterly addictive, and you won't be able to resist indulging in more than just a few!

Originating in Madrid, Patatas Bravas has transcended its roots and can now be found gracing bar menus across Spain. Some creative renditions of this dish have even earned a place on the menus of Michelin-starred restaurants! Traditionally, Patatas Bravas consists of bite-sized fried potatoes served with a zesty tomato sauce, earning its moniker 'brava' (meaning 'brave' in old Castilian). Essentially, it's Spain's delightful twist on the classic hot chips with sauce.

In my version, I've opted for a milder level of spiciness, but fear not—I'll show you how to crank up the heat if that's your preference. The key, in my view, is to ensure that the potatoes retain their delightful crispiness on the outside while staying soft and fluffy on the inside. I'll even share a secret 'no-fail' method to achieve those perfectly crispy chips.





Like many traditional Spanish dishes, this one is relatively simple to prepare, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to give it a try at home.

In Madrid, it's customary to order this dish at a bar, accompanied by a 'caña' (a small glass of beer, slightly less than a pint). Sometimes, it's even served in a wine glass! For those who prefer wine over beer, I've included some wine pairing suggestions below.

As a bonus, I've included a traditional (egg-free) recipe for aioli, typically more associated with Catalan cuisine than Madrid. However, if you decide to go with a spicier version of Patatas Bravas, the aioli can help temper the heat and add a delightful creamy touch to your dish.

Bon Profit! Raquel x


Patatas Bravas (Fierce Potatoes)


Serves: 4-6 adults a 'tapa' but you can easily double this recipe if you want more.


INGREDIENTS for deep-fried potatoes

  • 4 medium, washed potatoes (400g) (I count 2 potatoes per adult) chopped into 2cm size pieces
  • 250 mL of olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt


INGREDIENTS for brava sauce

  • 1 medium onion, roughly diced
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 teaspoons of sweet (preferably smoked) paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne/spicy paprika (optional)
  • 2 birdseye chilli peppers, deseeded *wear gloves!* (optional)
  • ½ can of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 piquillo peppers, roughly chopped (I use 'Always Fresh' brand)
  • ¼ clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp Sherry vinegar (substitute apple cider vinegar if you can't get Sherry Vinegar)


METHOD

Part 1. Prep the Potatoes
  1. Steam cubed potato for 15 minutes until soft, but not falling apart. *Note: you may choose to boil potato in water instead for 15 mins before draining well.
  2. Scatter the potatoes (in a single layer) over a baking tray and sprinkle over salt - allow to cool slightly - then place tray in freezer for at least 30 minutes.

While your potatoes are in the freezer, prepare the sauce...

 

Part 2. Sauce
  1. Heat oil over low heat in a saucepan.
  2. Add onion (and a pinch of salt) and fry for 2-3 mins until starting to soften, try not to let bottom of pan burn to much - keep heat low.
  3. Add paprika, cayenne and birdseye chillies (if using), quarter garlic clove and salt to pan. Stir well.
  4. Add tomatoes and piquillo peppers and cook for 7-10 mins so liquid reduces a little.
  5. Add the vinegar and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat.
  6. Carefully pour saucepan contents into a food processor/blender (add 1 tsp salt) and blitz until ingredients are well combined and sauce is smooth. Taste and add more salt if desired. Leave for the moment.


Part 3. Fry the Potatoes
  1. Remove tray of potatoes from the freezer.
  2. In a medium saucepan/deep fry pan, heat oil until starting to smoke. *Note: You can test the oil by dropping in a piece of potato. If it immediately bubbles and sizzles, your oil is ready.
  3. Fry your potatoes in two separate batches to prevent the oil from cooling too much (four batches if you have doubled the recipe). Fry the potatoes until golden brown. If oil does not completely cover potatoes in pan, you may need to turn your potatoes mid-way through cooking so both sides fry evenly.
  4. Carefully remove ready chips from hot oil with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towel to drain, whilst you finish frying the remaining potato.
  5. Transfer finished chips to a clean plate. *Note: taste a chip and if required, add more salt if desired.
  6. Spoon sauce over the hot chips and serve immediately.


WINE MATCHING & SERVING SUGGESTIONS


Aside from downing a cold glass of Manzanilla or caña of beer, I would absolutely recommend our Tempranillo 'J'! Something about the colour and cherry tobacco notes perhaps, which complements so beautifully.

Serve alongside some quality aioli or why not try making my traditional (eggless) version below.


BONUS RECIPE


Traditional Aioli (NO EGG) - using a mortar and pestle 


INGREDIENTS

  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (for a less picante garlic flavour, boil your garlic for 10-15 minutes first)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (sea salt is ideal, DO NOT use iodised salt - see troubleshooting above)
  • Squeeze of lemon juice (~2 tsp)
  • 60 ml olive oil

METHOD

  1. Place chopped garlic and sea salt into a mortar and mash together to achieve a smooth paste.
  2. Add lemon juice and continue mashing.
  3. Begin to add your olive oil 1 tsp at a time, continuously mashing to emulsify and thicken before adding next tsp of oil.
  4. After each addition, whisk mixture until thick and well combined before adding another tbsp of oil.
  5. *Note: if the aioli becomes too thick, add a tsp or two of water to thin it (mix well).


BONUS RECIPE with VARIATION


Traditional Aioli (WITH EGG) - using whisking method


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium head of garlic, roasted (slice off top and roast in 180° Celsius oven (fan-forced) for 20-25 mins, then squeeze out cloves). *Note: You may use freshly crushed garlic, but only 3-4 cloves as it will be a way too potent and may chemically react with the lemon juice causing a blue/green colour to occur! (see troubleshooting above)
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt (I use Murray River flakes)
  • A squeeze of lemon juice, approximately 2 teaspoons
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • room temperature egg yolk (must not be cold from the fridge!)


METHOD

  1. Place cooled roasted garlic cloves into a medium bowl with salt and mash well with a fork.
  2. Add lemon juice and mix well until a smooth paste forms.
  3. Add your room temperature egg yolk and using a whisk this time, mix well to combine.
  4. Begin to add your olive oil 1 tsp at a time, continuously mashing to emulsify and thicken before adding next tsp of oil.
  5. After each addition, whisk mixture until thick and well combined before adding another tbsp of oil.
  6. *Note: if the aioli becomes too thick, you may add a tsp or two of water to thin it (mix well).

Aioli will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.


TIPS, CHEATS & TROUBLESHOOTING


With the Aioli recipe, why does my garlic turn pale green/blue?

Ah, the enchanting world of allium chemistry! If you notice your garlic hasn't cooked sufficiently in the oven, those "raw" pieces may contain more active sulphur compounds that can react with the copper electrodes in lemon juice, causing a change in colour. But fret not, it's entirely safe to consume!

In the mortar and pestle aioli recipe, the garlic is indeed used in its raw form. To minimise the risk of discolouration, the addition of salt before introducing lemon juice can be helpful. However, it's worth noting that iodised salt may still trigger the colour change reaction. Nevertheless, your aioli remains perfectly edible.


WINE MATCHING & SERVING SUGGESTIONS


When it comes to matching patatas bravas with wine, your choices are quite versatile. Opt for a red wine like ourTempranillo J, boasting a delightful harmony of acidity and subtle tannins. Alternatively, consider a white wine such as ourAmphora Blanco or our single-varietal Albariño. And if you prefer an alternative option, don't hesitate to pair it with our refreshingrosé. The choice is yours to savour!