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Spud Sunday: A Taste of June

Patatas Bravas

Patatas bravas – potatoes cubed, fried and served with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli [1] – are one of the classic tapas dishes. My interpretation here varies from the traditional mainly in that I roast the potato cubes in olive oil, rather that frying them, which saves a good deal of effort, especially if you’re making a large batch.

You’ll need:

  • 1 kg potatoes, preferably a floury variety
  • Olive oil for roasting
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 quantity tomato sauce (see below)
  • 1 quantity aioli (see below)
  • Freshly chopped flat leaf parsley to serve

You’ll also need:

  • 2 shallow roasting trays, each around 25cm x 38cm

The Steps:

  • Preheat your oven to 200C
  • Scrub your potatoes well, peel or not as you prefer, chop into approx. 1cm cubes and pat dry.
  • Add about 4 tblsps of oil to one of your roasting trays and place both trays in the oven to heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the trays from the oven, toss the potato cubes in the hot oil and add a couple of pinches of coarse salt. Spread them across both trays and return to the oven.
  • Roast the potatoes for around 40 minutes or until golden.
  • Serve the crispy potato cubes topped with tomato sauce, a spoon of aioli and scattered with freshly chopped parsley.

The Variations:

  • If you prefer to fry the potatoes, as is more traditional for this dish, then you can certainly do so – you might want to boil the potato cubes briefly before doing so.
The Results:
  • Tapas-sized portions for 5-6 people.

Tomato Sauce With Chilli And Garlic

Hooray for the approach of that time of year where locally grown tomatoes become available and making a sauce from fresh tomatoes is a vaguely sensible proposition. If you don’t have a source of good fresh tomatoes, substitute 2 x 400g tins of good quality tinned tomatoes instead. The result will be different but still tasty.

You’ll need:

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 2 medium-sized onions, about 300g, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large fresh red chilli pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tblsp tomato purée
  • 900g fresh, ripe tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.5 tsp salt or more to taste
  • small pinch sugar
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar

The Steps:

  • Place a large, heavy saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add enough oil to coat the base of the pan well. Add the onion, stir and fry until translucent and softened – about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and fresh chili. Stir and fry for another minute or so.
  • Add the cayenne and paprika, stir briefly, then add the tomato purée, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly for at least 30 minutes.
  • Add the red wine vinegar and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. This sauce can be made the day before and reheated if you like.

The Variations:

  • You could certainly add in some chopped red pepper along with the onion and/or try substituting some smoked paprika for the milder sweet variety.

The Results:

  • Make around 750ml of sauce

Aioli

Provençal or Catalan? Made with egg or without? Such are the questions that exercise the minds of those concerned with the finer points of aioli or allioli [2]. Me, I’m happy to think of it as garlic mayonnaise and just get on with it. And, of course, as with any homemade mayonnaise, your egg will remain raw so be sure to use a good quality egg, free range and organic if you can.

You’ll need:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 clove raw garlic or 6 cloves of roasted garlic, crushed
  • 0.25 tsp salt
  • 1 tblsp red wine vinegar
  • 50ml sunflower oil
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil

You’ll also need:

  • You can use a hand whisk, an electric whisk or food processor for this.

The Steps:

  • Add your egg yolk, mustard, garlic, salt and vinegar to a large bowl or into the bowl of a food processor. Whisk or blend well.
  • Very slowly, stream the sunflower oil and then the olive oil into the mixture. If you’re using a food processor, keep the motor running while you stream in the oil. By hand, you’ll just need to keep whisking all the time so that the oil and egg yolk becomes emulsified and thick. Add more salt and/or vinegar to taste.

The Variations:

The Results:

  • Makes about 100ml