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Patatas Bravas (Memories of A Spicy Thanksgiving in Spain)

Published by Van Lozaya

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Whether it be for Thanksgiving, as part of a Spanish inspired tapas meal or just to try something different, this spicy potato side dish is sure to impress.

Thanksgiving with my family is traditionally spent sat around a long table filled to the edge with overflowing plates of food. We bask in the scent of the roasting and baking beforehand, then stuff our bellies with as much as we can handle, and then moan and ask ourselves why we ate so much. This year, as the rest of my family sat around that long table, I lay on a golden beach in Spain. The original intention wasn’t to be away for the day of thanks, but an opportunity presented itself and I just couldn’t pass it up.

Though I landed in and spent a full day wandering the beautiful streets of Barcelona, I spent my nights in a little beach side condominium in the charming town of Cambrils. With its narrow cobbled streets and many restaurants, markets and shops, Cambrils had everything one could desire without losing the quiet charm of a sea-side Mediterranean village. Granted, I visited Cambrils in early October, at the end of the tourist season; the locals assured me that it has a completely different energy during the summer months when the streets are much more populated and the humidity intense.

The same historic charm could be experienced in Salou, a neighbouring beach town (as I’m sure it could in any one of the villages along the Costa Dorada). My friends and I walked to Salou from Cambrils one morning, and after soaking up the breathtaking coast and charming architecture, we lunched in one of the many available restaurants scattered amongst the shops. With that meal, as with most every meal we had together in Spain, we shared a plate of Patatas Bravas. Though each restaurant served it slightly differently (adding their own twist), this traditional tapas dish was simply too delicious not to re-order again and again.

The trip was over much too fast, so after settling back into our routines at home, my friends and I met for a Spanish “reunion”. To authenticate the get together, we dined tapas-style on foods we had shared whilst in Spain. As we sipped our sangria and flipped through photos, we nibbled on fresh bread dipped in hummus, Russian salad and my homemade Patatas Bravas. The recipe was much easier than I had anticipated and included ingredients that I hadn’t. The spicy sauce that accompanies the “patatas” is thick and creamy. I was certain the recipe would include milk or cream to some degree, but (as someone who suffers from Lactose Intolerance) was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t include dairy of any kind.

Keeping with the tradition, my recipe has a slightly different twist than the one I was meant to follow. Go on, try it; your taste buds will awaken and you’ll be thinking Spanish thoughts in no time.

Patatas Bravas

Serves 2 (if you’re willing to share after you taste it)

Items you’ll need:

  • 1/4 of an onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 15-20 ripe cherry tomatoes
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 1 small hot pepper
  • 2 tsps of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of flour
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 medium sized golden potatoes
  • 2-3 cups of olive oil (for frying the potatoes)

What you’ll need to do:

1. In a large frying pan, add the onion, garlic and hot pepper (all finely chopped) to the olive oil and fry over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Once the onions begin to become transparent, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the paprika.

2. Add the whole cherry tomatoes, the parsley (torn into pieces) and the sugar to the mixture and return the frying pan to the heat. Lower the temperature to medium-low and let it simmer for at least 5 minutes (until the tomatoes become soft).

3. Add the flour and water to the mixture and stir well. Let the mixture continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes (to allow the sauce to reduce).

4. In the meantime, wash and cut the potatoes into small bite-sized pieces. (I prefer to leave the skin on, but they will be equally as delicious without the skin). Set the olive oil in a deep sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is ready (you’ll know when you drop a small potato into the pan and it begins to bubbly immediately), fry the potatoes until golden brown and set over a plate covered with paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

5. Once he sauce has reduced, remove the pan from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Using a blender or hand held mixer, blend the sauce (adding a touch oil if it has become too thick) and then press through a strainer to remove the tomato skins.

6. Arrange your fried potatoes onto a large plate and you can either drizzle the sauce over them or pour it into the corner for dipping. The sauce is best served hot, but if it gets cool while you’re frying the potatoes, it can easily be reheated in a frying pan with a little olive oil.

Pour yourself a tall glass of sangria with ice cubes and orange slices and enjoy.

Buon Apetito!

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