Practically every cafetería or restaurant in Spain, and tapas bars the world over, will have patatas bravas on the menu. For good reason, patatas bravas are simple, quick, tasty and delicious. There's a café in Madrid that claims to have invented bravas sauce in 1960. It's tomato-based, with a hint of smokiness and, unusually for a Spanish dish, a blast of chilli heat. In some parts of Spain, however, that heat is tempered by the addition of mayonnaise - but to me, that's just wrong. It might be nice, but it's not patatas bravas.
Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Peel the potatoes and chop them into chunks of 2-3 cm (about an inch). Put them in the pan and simmer until just soft, about 10-15 minutes.
Peel and finely chop the onion. Sauté in a little olive oil until soft but not browned. In a small saucepan, mash up the tomatoes and add the smoked paprika. Let them bubble away for a few minutes and add the onion when they are done. Cook for a few minutes longer, then puree the sauce with an immersion blender. Pass the sauce through a fine strainer, using the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Now return the sauce to the small saucepan and simmer to reduce. You want the consistency of thick paint. If your sauce doesn't look thick enough, you can sift in some flour to thicken it. Now add your hot sauce or chillis, and taste the sauce. You may want to add a bit of salt.
Finish the potatoes
When the potatoes are slightly soft, drain and dry them, and put them in a pan of hot oil (if you don't want to fry them, turn your oven on high, coat the potatoes with a drizzle of oil and roast for about 40 minutes, turning once or twice). When the potatoes are golden and crispy, about 5-10 minutes, drain them on kitchen paper.
To serve patatas bravas
Place a few potatoes on a small plate and spoon or pour a good amount of sauce over them.
• 2 large potatoes • 400 grams peeled plum tomatoes • 1 tsp smoked paprika • 1 tsp hot sauce
PLUS Vegetable oil for frying, flour for thickening, salt to taste. Your hot sauce (or heat source) can be whatever you like - Tabasco, sriracha, chilli powder - and you can add as much or as little as you like.
Makes 1 cup of sauce Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes.
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