Tonight’s supper: Spanish classic patatas bravas

PUBLISHED: 12:33 15 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:07 16 July 2020

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Patatas Bravas is a simple supper or brunch dish

Patatas BravasPatatas Bravas

This is another perfect accompaniment to one of those long and languorous summer days, as an ideal Saturday/Sunday brunch or lunch dish. Long a staple of tapas bars all over Spain there are any number of recipes and ingredients for this Iberian marvel.

While it is a simple yet delicious version of this Spanish classic, as with any classic recipe it can, and should, be tailored to individual tastes. I have stated this meal as a weekend treat because it is especially adapted to comfort a, shall we say, delicate state of physical and mental health. Put more bluntly, this is a brilliant hangover cure, if there be such a thing. If, on the other hand, you’ve had a perfectly sensible evening and been early to bed, then why not open a robust Rioja and enjoy the best of that Great British invention ‘el fin de semana’.

PATATAS BRAVAS INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

3-4 banana shallots

Salsa to accompany the dishSalsa to accompany the dish

1 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika (pimentón)

½ teaspoon hot Spanish paprika (pimentón)

chilli flakes

1 jarred chargrilled red sweet pepper

approx 250g per person Cornish new potatoes

fresh parsley

Cornish sea salt

pepper

a large free range egg per person

METHOD OF COOKING

Halve or quarter the potatoes, dependent upon their size, ideally you want bite size morsels. Place in a pan of boiling salted water and parboil for five to ten minutes, or until tender to the touch of a sharp knife. Sieve and place to one side.

While cooking the potatoes prepare the rest of your ingredients. You will need them to hand as this is a dish you can easily burn and need to give it all of your concentration – do not move away from the stove while cooking this dish!

Peel and chop your shallots, your sweet pepper and your fresh parsley.

Take a large non-stick pan, I personally cook this in a wok, as it is easy to control the heat, it is deep, easy to toss and covers a lot of surface area. Place the pan on a medium heat, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the shallots in the oil until soft, but not golden, then place the potatoes in the pan, add the spices, salt and pepper. Keep tossing the potatoes in the pan until golden and encrusted with the paprika, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Lastly add the chopped, jarred chargrilled pepper, this will add a piquancy to the dish to counteract the spiciness and the richness of the egg yoke. Throw in the chopped fresh parsley and toss, but save a little of the parsley for a final garnish. Place the potatoes in a plate, or bowl, fry an egg and place on top. Serve with good crusty bread, such as a baguette, to scoop up some of that wonderful yoke. If you want to make this dish more substantial, add some chorizo sausage or bacon and make it a quirky take on the full English.

If you feel that this version of patatas bravas is a little dry for your tastes then you could add some spicy tomato salsa to give it a little extra zing. The beauty of this recipe is that it is incredibly versatile, can be prepared in advance and refrigerated and is fantastic as a warm or cold accompaniment to anything from nachos to barbecues, salad wraps to sandwiches.

SALSA INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

1 sweet pepper

1 fresh chilli pepper

6 small sweet tomatoes

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon tomato puree

the juice of 1 lime

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1-2 teaspoons of sugar

Cornish sea salt

pepper

fresh corriander

METHOD OF COOKING

As with any recipe that has fresh chilli among its ingredients, it really depends on the type of chilli pepper and how hot you like them to be. Jalapeños tend to be cooler, birds eye and scotch bonnet, for example, are generally hotter. As a vague rule of the thumb the smaller and uglier the chilli pepper the hotter it is, though this is by no means idiot proof. There is an accurate method in which to tell how hot a chilli pepper is – the Scoville unit, but unfortunately there is no such method for the human mouth other than trial and error. A great method for consistency in chilli potency is to get your own chilli plant, this is a clever way of working out how many individual chilli peppers you need in a dish. Another method is to deseed the chilli and take out the white inner membrane, which is where most of the chilli’s power base is located.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Chop and dice the sweet pepper and the chilli, half the tomatoes and then add to the pan and soften. Add the spices, the lime juice and the tomato puree and allow to blend in. Then add the tin of chopped tomatoes and sugar. Place a lid on the pan and cook down for around 15-20 minutes, or until the excess water has evaporated leaving a thick, unctuous sauce. Add the salt pepper and coriander to taste and you have maximum umami in a pan. ¡Buen Apetito!

Ewen MacDonald is a regular contributor to Cornwall Life magazine

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