Normally translated as “fierce” or “brave” potatoes, the translation I like best is “potatoes with a temper.” Nothing warms up your belly on a chilly Madrid winter evening like some potatoes topped with a spicy smoked paprika sauce. Now, its strange because spicy food is NOT the norm in Spain. People here are not too fond of spiciness, they like to taste the ingredients in their food, rightfully so, considering the high quality of the products to be found throughout the country. Bravas, as they are called, are served in most of the tapas bars in Madrid and there are varying qualities, some bars even use a pre-made supermarket sauce and even mix it with mayo.
For a true bravas experience all visitors to Madrid must make a stop at one bar, Las Bravas. Luckily they have a few locations very close to Puerta del Sol. Besides allegedly inventing this fiery dish, Las Bravas proudly serves their potatoes with their own patented sauce which is arguably among the best in town. The tapas here are cheap, good and are eaten standing at the bar or at high tables. If you’d rather sit..well, don’t, sit at the next place, the bravas here are worth it.
But you can’t make it to Madrid for the moment here is a recipe you can try at home.
Potatoes for Patatas Bravas:
You can decide the amount of potatoes depending on how many people but the sauce should be enough for 1.5 lbs (750g) potatoes.
The potatoes are best cut in bite sized, 1.5 inch irregular pieces. Traditionally they are deep fried but I prefer a little healthier way by roasting them in the oven (coated with olive oil). Another option would be to boil the potatoes first then sauté them in oil at the end to crisp the outside.
Ingredients for Brava Sauce:
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped or mashed
4 small/medium tomatoes
1 ½ teaspoons spicy smoked Spanish paprika (this varies depending on how spicy your paprika is!)
2 tablespoons flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
½ cup or so of olive oil
(optional: 1tsp saffron, small pinch of cayenne pepper flakes)
- Chop and begin sautéing the onions in generous amount of olive oil so that the onions are wet. Do not let them brown and cook for about 10 minutes adding the garlic halfway through.
- Meanwhile blanch, peel and chop the tomatoes then add them to the onions.
- Now you can add your Spanish paprika, flour, salt, pepper, sugar and hot pepper flakes, cook 5 minutes more, covered.
- Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and blend to a sauce. Add salt and olive oil to taste, mix and pour over the cooked potatoes. Serve and Enjoy!