About 18 months ago I spent an amazing few days in Barcelona. I had a fantastic time and would love to go back and spend more time there. The architecture is just fabulous – of course there are the famous Gaudi buildings and I could have sat in the Sagrado Familia for hours. The creativity encompassed just in that one building is unbelievable, and while the outside is the more well known element, it was the glass and the columns that are trees that I was particularly enamoured with.
But it is not just the Gaudi buildings. As someone coming from Australia where old is new by world standards, I loved the gothic style buildings and the secluded laneways that suddenly turn in to squares where families are playing and people are sitting enjoying a coffee, beer or sangria.
I stayed in the El Born area and liked not only that it was slightly away from all the noise of Las Ramblas and the super touristy areas but that it was quite near the beach. I am not sure why but I had never twigged that Barcelona had a beach. I guess it is not something that you see on the main tourist adverts, at least not in Australia.
What I remember most about Barcelona food is the tapas. A bit like food on sticks there is just something about platefuls of small food. And while there were amazing croquettes, stuffed olives and other treats, the dish that I remember the most vividly is the patatas bravas. Perfect food for soaking up the odd cocktail or glass of wine. Not that fancy either when you think it is really just potatoes with a tomato sauce. But there is just something in that tomato sauce.
The memories were rekindled on my walking holiday down in Victoria where my friend Meredith and I found a cute little tapas restaurant in Apollo Bay. More patatas bravas were consumed and I knew I needed to learn how to make this happy tasty dish. Since that trip I have been trialling different patatas bravas recipes and have struggled to find one that matched up to the best patatas bravas I had in Barcelona. One of the recipes did remind me of a trashy cheap patatas bravas I had in Barcelona. Trashy in that it had lots of readymade ingredients and a bit processed albeit in a very delicious way. A bit like the Spanish equivalent of takeaway chips smothered in chicken salt.
After more in depth testing I have finally found a recipe (or rather a combination of two recipes) that comes close to the good Barcelona patatas bravas. It isn’t quite as good but it is close enough that I am happy to share it with you. The potato element comes from this recipe by the Minimalist Baker. I also made their sauce and it was good but didn’t quite match my memories (and mine didn’t look anything like their picture so I may have taken a detour somewhere along the line!). My sauce comes from this recipe by .
I love the Minimalist Baker method of getting the potatoes nice and crispy and the inclusion of garlic powder is a must. And the sauce by Simply Recipes has a great kick to it. The smoked paprika is the key to this part of the recipe. The smokiness doesn’t overwhelm the tomato but adds a great depth of flavour. Ideally you would add aioli to the dish at the end but I had mayonnaise that needed using up so went with the less authentic but non wasteful option.
I ate my patatas bravas for dinner but they would also be great as an appetiser for two on a hot day with a cool beer. It has about 650 calories with the mayonnaise – if you are trying to keep things down cut the mayonnaise or go with a light mayonnaise. The mayonnaise makes up about 90 calories.
In terms of not having ingredients left over, the main item with leftovers is the tinned tomatoes and I eat them for breakfast on toast if I don’t have other recipes planned for the week that I will use them in.
- 320g (or there abouts) of desiree potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces but leave the skin on
- 1 tbs of olive oil
- sea salt
- 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 2 tsps of olive oil
- 1/4 of a brown onion, diced
- 1 tsp of minced garlic (equivalent to one clove)
- 3 tbs of white wine
- 2/3 tbs of tomato paste
- 130g of tinned, diced tomatoes (1/3 of a 400g tin)
- 1/2 tsp of Tabasco sauce (adjust for how spicy you like things)
- 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 1/4 tsp of sugar
- Mayonnaise (I used about 1 tbs)
- Preheat oven to 230 degrees C (450 f)
- Soak diced potatoes in boiling water for 10 minutes. I boil the water in the kettle
- After the potatoes have soaked for 10 minutes drain and dry thoroughly with paper towel.
- Pop the potatoes in a bowl and toss in the olive oil, a generous amount of sea salt and the garlic powder. I have said a tsp of garlic powder but the main thing is generously coat the potatoes. I normally wipe the bowl I soaked the potatoes in and re use it to save on washing up.
- Put the potatoes on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until fully cooked. Stir them half way through.
- While the potatoes are baking get started on the sauce.
- Heat the olive oil in small pan on medium.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until just starting to brown stirring to make sure they don't stick.
- Add the wine and turn the temperature up to medium-high.
- Cook the wine until the wine reduces by half. As this is a smaller amount than the original recipe this should happen fairly quickly - a couple of minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, Tabasco sauce, smoked paprika, salt and sugar and stir until it is all well combined.
- Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer until the potatoes are close to done.
- Just before the potatoes are finished use a hand blender to puree the sauce. I kept mine a bit rustic.
- Once the potatoes are done, remove from oven and put in a bowl and top with the tomato sauce and add mayonnaise to taste.