A native dish to Spain, potatas bravas are one of the most common tapas dishes. This dish dates back to the mid-16th century but no one knows the exact date. They were popularised in Madrid but are found in virtually every bar in every corner of Spain.
They are simply potatoes cut into irregular pieces about 2 cm across and deep fried with spicy tomato sauce called ‘bravas’ sauce poured over them as they are served. The sauce is made from tomatoes, vinegar and chilli and from there every recipe is different.
The key to this dish is the sauce, so we are going to start with that so the sauce has time to develop its full flavour.
The quintessential tapas dish. Easy to make and equally tasty. For best results, use a fluffy potato — same as you would use for chips (fries) like maris piper, king edwards and russet.
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 4 cloves garlic pressed
- 1 sm onion finely grated
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (more for sprinkling when serving)
- 2 tbsp Frank’s hot sauce
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 500 ml passata
- 125 ml chicken stock double concentrated (1 cube in 250ml water)
- 1 tsp potato starch (or other thickener)
- 1 kg potatoes
- 1500 ml sunflower oil (or any frying oil, not olive oil)
Pour half of the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Once the oil has heated, add the garlic and grated onion. Saute for about five minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients except for the passata and chicken stock. Bring together and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Whisk in the passata. Once fully incorporated, whisk in the chicken stock.
Simmer for 30 minutes. Stir the potato starch into 1 tbsp of cold water. Slowly add the starch to the sauce while whisking constantly. Simmer for a few minutes until the desired thickness is reach.
Pour the sauce through a fine sieve over a heat-proof bowl. You’ll need to do this a bit at a time, stirring the sauce in the sieve to push it through. Empty the sieve of any bits with each filling.
Set the sauce aside — on to the potatoes!
Cut your potatoes into large chunks — it's easier to cook them this way and cut them smaller after the pre-cook.
Put the potatoes in a pan with cold water and a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until a fork goes into the potato with a bit of resistence – usually around 10 minutes. You don't want to over cook them as you will be frying them later and they will fall apart if overcooked.
Drain the potatoes in a colander and run them under cold water to stop them cooking. Set aside to cool.
Once cooled (and just before you’re ready to fry them, chop into 2 cm pieces. (cut small ones into four pieces — larger once chop up more)
Put your oil into a deep pan or wok (mine was 28cm across) and bring up to temperature – that's 325° F or 160° C. Add your potatoes in small batches and fry until golden brown and crispy.
Drain on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet lined with kitchen roll (paper towels).
When ready to serve, put into a tapas bowl and drizzle with warm bravas sauce. Sprinkle with a bit of smoked paprika and serve.
This recipe makes more sauce than you will need for the potatoes. How much extra will depend upon how much sauce you like! But this sauce keeps well and is great on smoked sausage, pork chops and more.