Tapas night has never been better with these Crispy Patatas Bravas, made with fingerling potatoes and served with a sweet and spicy piquillo pepper aioli.
As a chef, I’m always looking for ways to get more efficient in my cooking methods, both professionally and at home. Little shortcuts here and there add up to lots of time saved in the long run, and that’s what it’s all about. Shortcuts are never meant to skimp on quality, only to make your life a bit easier. Today I’m spilling my secret with you for one of my favorite weeknight dinner hacks when I’m short on time: tapas night!
Tapas night is something I came up with for when I don’t feel like spending tons of time in the kitchen, but still want to eat well. Basically all it entails is throwing together a pretty snack platter from whatever happens to be hanging out in the fridge and cupboards (cheeses, fruit, hummus, crackers, chips, veggies, etc), making one tasty yet low maintenance small plate (like these Crispy Patatas Bravas that I promise we’re about to get into) and popping open a bottle of wine to pair with the whole spread. TAPAS NIGHT!
Today we’re sipping on J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines’ Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon. With its notes of black currant, cherry and cocoa powder, it stands up to smoky meat dishes and wood fired pizzas and flatbreads. But it also has a bright acidity and a pleasant softness that you don’t typically find in other cabernets, making it versatile enough to pair with a snack platter and these Crispy Patatas Bravas, especially the smoky/sweet/spicy Piquillo Pepper Aioli that goes with them.
So here’s the deal with these Crispy Patatas Bravas: traditionally this tapas dish is made by frying the potatoes…they’re essentially French fries in cubed form.
But frying is not low-maintenance! Roasting is, however, and over years of testing different methods for roasted potatoes for a regular client more times than I can ever count, I’ve perfected how to achieve THE. CRISPIEST. ROASTED. POTATOES. EVER.
HOW TO MAKE CRISPY PATATAS BRAVAS
- The secret to the crispiest potatoes, I’ve found, is by steaming them first, right on the baking sheet in the oven. This cooks the potatoes first and results in a soft, creamy interior.
- Only after that first step do we crank up the heat, toss the potatoes with a generous amount of oil and salt, and let the crisping commence.
- Another trick that’s essential to seriously crispy patatas bravas is arranging the potatoes cut side down and evenly spaced apart in a single layer. Don’t crowd the potatoes, either. If you need a second baking sheet, use it. Avoiding crowding will prevent the potatoes from steaming again when they should be roasting and forming that crispy crust. Don’t bother flipping them, either.
- Roast the potatoes directly on the baking sheet, without a layer of foil or parchment. The combination of hot metal, hot oil oil and a hot oven will produce the most golden, crispy potatoes imaginable.
- My favorite potatoes to use for these Crispy Patatas Bravas are fingerlings, but Yukon gold also work really well.
As far as the piquillo pepper aioli, you can make it in a flash while the potatoes are cooking. I can usually find roasted piquillo peppers in a jar at Whole Foods, but if you can’t find them, roasted red bell peppers are a great substitute. In that case you might want to add a pinch of smoked sea salt and crushed red pepper to mimic the spicy, smoky kick of the piquillo peppers that pairs so well with J. Lohr Estates and Vineyards’ Seven Oaks Cabernet.
This post is sponsored by J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make this blog possible!
Crispy Patatas Bravas
FOR THE POTATOES:
- 1 ½ pounds fingerling potatoes halved lengthwise
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
FOR THE AIOLI:
- ½ cup good quality mayonnaise use vegan mayonnaise to keep it vegan
- ¼ cup roasted piquillo peppers seeds removed and coarsely chopped (can substitute roasted red pepper)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375°. Arrange potatoes, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet, spacing evenly apart. Pour in enough water to cover baking sheet with a thin layer, about 1 ½-2 cups. Cover baking sheet very tightly with foil, crimping against the sides of the baking sheet to seal and trap in the steam.
Bake until a fork slides easily through potatoes, about 20 minutes. Let potatoes cool slightly and increase oven temperature to 425°. Peel back the foil on one corner and pour off any remaining water into the sink. Remove foil and drizzle olive oil over potatoes. Season with salt and toss to combine.
Arrange potatoes cut side down and evenly spaced again and roast until tops are golden and bottoms are deeply browned, about 20 minutes more. Let potatoes cool slightly, then use a spatula to unstick them from baking sheet.
While potatoes are baking, make the aioli by combining mayonnaise, piquillo pepper and salt in a blender. Pulse until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Serve with potatoes.