I chuckle to myself each time I see a recipe online purporting to be an “authentic” patatas bravas recipe. I wouldn’t be able to tell you what a truly authentic patatas bravas would look like – each bar and restaurant makes them in their own way. Of course, they all need to contain potatoes and some kind of a sauce, usually (but not exclusively) and tomato-based one. However, the variation in cooking techniques and sauce ingredients is endless. As I’m such a potato addict, we usually order patatas bravas when we go out for tapas, which is nearly weekly, and we’ve sussed out our favorite bars around the city – some of which we go to exclusively for the patatas bravas. My version of patatas bravas involves smoking the potatoes first – a technique I’ve been experimenting with a lot lately ever since I MacGyvered an aluminum foil pan and some chicken wire into a smoker for my stove top.
It’s really simple, just put a small handful of soaked barbeque wood chips in one corner of the pan and place the veggies on top of the chicken wire. I use apple wood chips that I picked up in the barbeque section of my local hardware store. I usually put a couple of cans on top of the lid to get a bit of a better seal, but some of the smoke escapes regardless. I haven’t found that it smokes out my entire kitchen, our exhaust fan seems to take care of it pretty well. I place the end of the pan with the wood chips in it directly on the stove element over high heat until the chips start smoking, then reduce the heat to medium. We have electric elements, I’m not sure how this would work over a gas range, but I’d be interested in knowing if anyone tries it. The best way I’ve found to smoke potatoes is to roast them in the oven until they’re about halfway done and then finish them in the smoker for about 45 minutes to impart the smokey barbeque flavour.
- Potatoes, cut into wedges
- Olive oil
- Parsley, for garnish
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Half a medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 can, 390 grams (14 oz) whole tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon smokey paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Toss the potato wedges in a little olive oil and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast them until they are half done – soft on the outside but still a little firm on the inside – about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the salsa brava. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and transparent – about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until for another minute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and use a spoon to break them up a little bit. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and allow to simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Finally, transfer to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
- Place a small handful of pre-soaked wood chips in one side of your smoker. Put the lid on the smoker and place the edge of the smoker over high heat until the chips begin to release a significant amount of smoke. Transfer your half-cooked potatoes to your smoker and put the lid back on. Lower the heat to medium. If the chips stop smoking, raise the heat a little bit. There should be a continuous stream of smoke escaping from the smoker. If the chips are charred and the smoke stops completely, add some fresh chips and return the heat to high until they start smoking. Smoke the potatoes until they are soft all the way through and you are satisfied with the amount of smokey flavour – about 30-45 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve topped with the salsa brava and garnished with parsley.