Crisp, spicy, and unforgettably delicious, patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) are a great side dish or addition to a tapas board.
Inside the crisply fried and spicy coated exterior hides a soft, seasoned centre in each of these chunks of potato. Patatas bravas, or "spicy potatoes" in this dish's native Spanish, is an excellent side dish or addition to a tapas board.
The secret to any delectable potato is cooking them twice. Not only does it improve flavour, but the process of cooking, cooling, then recooking potatoes increases their resistant starch (known as starch retrogradation). Resistant starch is not broken down in the stomach and turned into glucose, instead it is a prebiotic, which feeds the good bacteria in the large intestine. This in turn encourages those bacteria to produce fatty acids like butyrate that feed the cells in the intestines. Though more study is needed, it seems this helps to act as an anti-inflammatory and possibly even reduces the risk of colon cancer and bowel disease. This is also beneficial in that this reduces the rise in blood sugar after eating potatoes and improves the body's insulin sensitivity. This also works with other starches like pasta and rice.
Patatas bravas are vegan and gluten-free. Serve them alongside your favourite main dishes, or prepare a range of dips, like my spicy mayo, and serve as appetizers or tapas.
(Makes 6 servings)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 dried Spanish chilli pepper, stem and seeds removed
3 small bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked ground paprika
2lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup avocado oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, fill the pot with water until it is a bit more than half full. To the water add the sea salt, dried Spanish chili pepper, bay leaves, cumin, and smoked paprika. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the cubed potatoes. Once the pot comes back to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium and let simmer until the potatoes just become tender (about 8 minutes).
Shut off the stove, drain the potatoes, and discard the husk of the chili pepper as well as the bay leaves. Return the drained potatoes to the still hot element and steam off the residual water while vigorously agitating the pot to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the bottom.
Remove from the hot element and spread out on the sheet pan in one even layer. Set aside to cool completely (about an hour).
In a small mixing bowl, add the sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Mix and set aside.
Line a second sheet pan with paper towel and set aside.
Using a skillet, deep sauté pan, or 3-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the avocado oil. Once the oil is hot, add the cold potatoes and fry, stirring regularly, until they become golden brown on all sides (about 8 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the potatoes to the sheet pan lined with paper towel. Allow the paper towel to absorb some of the oil and for the potatoes to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, add the potatoes and sprinkle with the dry spices. Toss to coat evenly then serve.