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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Version 2.0 of Patatas Bravas

One of the most ubiquitous dishes in all of the Iberian Peninsula is patatas bravas, generous lumps of fried potato that should be crisp on the outside and tender and soft on the inside.  One of my friends here even started a patatas bravas Facebook page to alert people to good places to find them. As common as patatas bravas are in the bars in Spain there are few places that do this dish justice.  I would have to say that, in general, the bars of Madrid do a much better job with bravas than here in Valencia.

I’ve tried making patatas bravas at home with varying degrees of success and countless degrees of utter failure.  I don’t have an oil thermometer which is essential if you are using the twice-fried method, and the twice-fried way makes the best fried potatoes. I recently experimented with a par-boiled method in which I boil the cut and peeled potatoes in salted water, making sure not to cook them very much. You are just looking to make them a bit tender because anything more and they will fall apart when you cook them again in hot oil. I never even brought the potatoes to a boil but turned off the heat as the water approached a boil and left the potatoes to sit in the covered pot. I set my timer so that I didn’t leave them too long. I can’t say exactly how long to cook them or just when I decided to drain them. After I drained them I immediately put them in the freezer to halt the cooking process. I timed this, too, so that they wouldn’t freeze. Once they had cooled completely they are ready to fry in hot sunflower seed oil.

I topped these potatoes off with my fiercely-garlicky alioli.


  1. Another way is to put the potatoes, washed but not peeled and whole, in to par-boil. They'll be easier to peel when they're cooled off (a process you can accelerate by letting them sit in cold water for a bit). They'll cook, but not absorb as much water as in the pre-peeled and cut process. Then I stir fry them in a minimum of oil, and finish them in a hot over (under the broiler, if you're willing to spend the time to keep a careful eye on them. I find that gives me a cooked potato with a drier texture, so the outside is crispier and the inside fluffier. (Though it also depends on the type of potato. Don't know what you have there on the coast. And of course, never refrigerate poratoes. The cold accentuates the amount of sugar and complicates the cooking.)

  2. Our potatoes here aren't as good as in other parts of Spain. One thing that I like about cutting the potatoes before par-boiling is that I can more easily regulate how much they cook, but as I said before, I'm pretty shitty at cooking potatoes of any sort.

    And would you agree that lots of places in Madrid make great bravas?

  3. Yeah, because they supposedly were invented here in the alley right off Pza.Santa Ana. I lot of people say that the ones in "Las Bravas" are the best, but I've had better in out of the way places. The trick is well done taters and not too much oil in the sauce. BTW I'm surprised that in the cornucopia available in the gorgeous Central Market you can't find some non waxy potatoes, but then Valencia is hiper-provincial in the food department.

  4. This sounds so good.
    How do you make your Alioli?

  5. My alioli is different every time I make it. Traditionally it's just garlic and oil made with a mortar and pestle but that method is grueling. My hand mixer makes a decent alioli with and egg, two cloves of garlic, and a steady stream of olive oil (about one cup). ¡Buen provecho!

  6. Uy, patatas bravas, the orignal hot potato! I´d never attempt them at home but when I get them in a bar and they´re soggy and re-heated I feel utterly cheated. I wonder how Lauren at Spanish Sabores would do them - she´s pretty much an expert in the kitchen. http://spanishsabores.com/ Nice to find your blog!


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