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Patatas Bravas "New Way"

July 2012

Patatas bravas ‘New Way’
Fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and garlic mayonnaise

Serves 4

For the brava sauce:
4 large ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon pimentón (Spanish sweet paprika)
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Salt to taste
For the allioli
4 garlic cloves, peeled
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from about ¼ lemon)
1½ cups Spanish extra-virgin olive oil

For the potatoes:
2 cups Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound Idaho potatoes, (about 3 large potatoes) peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon pimentón (Spanish sweet paprika)

To make the brava sauce, slice the tomatoes in half. Place a grater over a bowl and rub the open side of the tomato over the grater until all the flesh is grated. Discard the skins. Strain the grated flesh through a sieve to produce 1½ cups of tomato puree. 
Pour the 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a small sauté pan and warm over low heat. Add the tomato puree, sugar, bay leaf, pimentón, and cayenne. Raise the heat to medium and cook until the mixture reduces by ¼ and becomes a deep red color, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the vinegar, season to taste with salt and set aside.
To make the allioli, mash the garlic and salt together using a mortar and pestle until you have a smooth paste. Mix in the lemon juice and then add the olive oil, drop by drop, as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle. Keep turning your pestle with a slow, continuous circular motion around the mortar. The dripping needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go. Keep adding the oil drop by drop until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add a little water, abuot ½teaspoon, to thin it out. This effort takes time, around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar, to create a dense, rich sauce. Set allioli aside.
For the potatoes, line up the potato squares and using a small melon-baller, scoop out a small cup on the top of each potato square. Pour the olive oil into a deep saucepan and heat over medium-low heat to 250 degrees on a candy thermometer. Working in batches to not crowd the pan, gently place the potatoes in the oil and poach them, frying slowly until soft, about 15 minutes. The potatoes should not change color but will soften all the way through. Test for softness using a toothpick. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain. Allow the oil to return to 250 degrees before frying next batch.
Raise the temperature of the olive oil to 350 degrees on a candy thermometer. Working again in batches, return the potatoes to the pan and fry until crispy and brown, about 2 minutes. Be sure to allow the oil to return to 350 degrees before frying next batch. Set potatoes aside to drain and season to taste with salt.

To serve, place the potato squares on a platter with the cup side up. Spoon brava sauce into each hole, add a dab of allioli and sprinkle with pimenton.
Brava sauce and allioli can be kept in refrigerator, tightly covered, for two days. 

Photograph by Pablo de Loy