Patatas Bravas is a traditional Spanish tapas dish consisting of crispy, fried potatoes drizzled in a smoky salsa brava made with tomatoes and smoked paprika. They are sometimes also dressed up with garlicky aioli, and are undoubtedly one of the best tapas dishes out there.
This was the fourth course in the 6-course Spanish meal that I served out of the bus recently, and was certainly one of the most popular. It is tough to beat a plate of fried potatoes accompanied by delicious sauces to dip them in. The only difference between this recipe and what I served at the dinner was the addition of a little bit of crispy, fried Spanish chorizo. If you’re looking to add another little layer of complexity and salty crunch, dice small some cured Spanish chorizo and saute it until crisp, then sprinkle over the finished dish.
However, if you skip the chorizo and the eggs in the mayonnaise, you’ve got yourself an excellent vegan tapas dish here as well. Smoked paprika is a great way to build smoky complexity into vegan foods, and this one is sure to be a hit.
4 large russet potatoes
High-Heat Frying Oil
Parsley, to garnish (optional)
¼ cup olive oil
½ large yellow onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp tomato paste
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp flour
1 cup light broth (vegetable, etc.)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
½ cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, pasted
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Peel the potatoes and chop them into roughly ¾” cubes. Boil them for around 7 minutes until just tender, then remove and cool. This step is best done at least a few hours ahead of time, but can be done the day before, and is important to creating crisp, golden, fried potatoes.
When it comes time to fry the potatoes, heat a large pot of vegetable oil to 370 degrees. Add the potatoes and fry them until golden brown. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan, and adding the potatoes will drop the oil temperature, so keep an eye on the temp and fry the potatoes in batches that won’t overfill your frying vessel.
Once cooked to perfection, remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon or spider and allow them to drain the excess oil onto paper towels. Salt liberally.
Stir the garlic paste and white wine vinegar into the mayonnaise and leave in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.
Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion to the pan and saute until it begins to turn translucent.
Next add the garlic, smoked paprika, and cayenne. Stir these in and saute for a minute or two, until the onions are coated in beautifully fragrant paprika oil.
Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the flour. Cook until the edges begin to brown. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook for around one minute more.
Add the broth a bit at a time, stirring with each addition, until a nice, thick sauce is formed. Be sure to scrape the bottom and pick up the fond. Simmer for a couple minutes to reduce, and then remove from heat.
Salt to taste and add white wine vinegar.
Puree, and make final seasoning adjustments with additional salt and vinegar as needed.
Finishing the Plate:
Each serving should be a nice scoop of well-salted potatoes. You may apply the sauces directly to the potatoes with squeeze bottles for a striking appearance, or serve them in ramekins on the side, for dipping.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and crispy, fried chorizo, if desired.