Patatas bravas – a brief resume and a recipe

You can find Patatas Bravas (where brave stands in for fiery) all over Spain, although we’d say the two main cities where they are traditional are Madrid and Barcelona. But they are different: whereas in Madrid they serve them with a red hot sauce, in Barcelona they usually accompany them with hot red sauce and mayonnaise. Personally we think mayonnaise has no place near patatas bravas, but then again it’s a matter of custom and taste.
You can make the red sauce in two different ways: with or without tomato. Today’s recipe is with tomato, but we’ll post the pimentón-based sauce too.
What should be common to all bravas is the way the potatoes are cooked. They aren’t just fried, they have an extra crispy and airy consistency which is usually achieved by double-frying them. First they’re fried in a medium-hot olive oil and then they’re fried again in hot oil. This way we get a soft interior and an extra crispy outside layer.

Patatas bravas A Maceta Santiago
The original bravas at A Maceta (Santiago) – fantastic!

In Santiago we used to love A Maceta’s bravas, although we find the sauce is different every time and the potatoes are often a bit hard on the inside. Galicia wouldn’t be the best place to get some decent bravas – be aware, usually what you’ll get is some fried potatoes with a hot ketchup. I’d rather ask for something else!

The ideal bravas plate.
Patatas Bravas

1 kg potatoes, peeled and cut in wedges
½ lt olive oil (for frying)
salt
pimentón (paprika)

for the sauce:
400g tomatoes (tinned, whole or crushed)
extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 or 2 chiles
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp thyme and oregano
1 onion, chopped finely
100 ml white wine
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp hot pimentón (or sweet pimentón + cayena pepper)

For the sauce.
In a saucepan heat up the olive oil and sautée the garlic. Add the chile and let sizzle a few seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes together with the bay leaf, thyme and oregano, and let bubble away for about 20 minutes, until the sauce isn’t watery anymore. Put aside.

In a medium frying pan sautée the chopped onion 20 minutes, or until tender and caramelized. Add the wine, bring to the boil and add the tomato sauce. Add the sugar and the pimentón, and adjust the salt and the pepper. Cook 5 minutes more, adding a little water if it gets too thick.

You can leave it a little chunky or make it smooth with a sieve or a blender.

For the potatoes: cook the potatoes in abundant hot olive oil (as in a potato tortilla, except the potatoes are cut in a different way) until tender. Set aside.
Raise the heat of the olive oil and fry the potatoes until golden and crunchy.

Serve the potatoes with the sauce on top or on the side.

Bravas with a white sauce: we highly disagree.
Bravas with red AND white sauce: why?

2 comments

  1. Hi,
    truth be told the use of mayo is spreading across Madrid as well. They can be found in every other place named as ‘braviolis’. Sigh, that kind of name compound of ‘bravas’ and ‘all i oli’.

    Kind regards,

    Jose

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