Patatas Bravas

Crispy potatoes with a spicy paprika-spiked sauce and garlicky allioli: What's not to love?

Overhead of a small serving bowl of patatas bravas drizzled with salsa brava and allioli, with glasses of red and white wine on the side.

Vicky Wasik

Patatas Bravas are to tapas bars what chicken wings are to sports bars. Every single one has got them, but other than a few basic similarities, they can vary wildly from spot to spot.

This updated version consists of crisply fried cubes of potatoes served with a paprika-tinged blended salsa brava, along with garlic-laden allioli. Like with perfect French fries, a quick par-boil in vinegar-spiked water will cook the potatoes through without allowing them to break down.

A traditional Catalan allioli doesn't contain any egg, but most modern recipes do. I almost always include it, which technically makes the sauce an aïoli, the Provençal accompaniment to seafood (amongst other things) which is also one of the most misapplied words in the history of menu-writing. 99% of the time you see it on a menu, the chef really means "mayonnaise". In fact, next time you see "aioli" printed on a menu, ask yourself these two questions:

1) Am I at a Spanish restaurant? 2) Am I in Spain?

If the answer to both of those is no, then that's mayonnaise you're eating.

None of this really matters, of course, and here's the only thing that does: allioli (or aïoli) is delicious. I highly recommend making it from scratch. With a food processor it's really easy, and with a steady bowl and a whisk, it's not that much harder. I find that using 100% extra virgin olive oil can become a little overpowering, so I cut it with some neutral canola oil (it's also cheaper that way). You may notice that I whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil by hand. This is because the rapidly whipping blade of a food processor exposes much more of the volatile aromatics in the oil to harmful oxygen, producing a number of unpleasant, bitter compounds.

If you don't believe me, try it for yourself—taste olive oil allioli made partially by hand versus that made completely in a machine and tell me which one you'd rather eat. If you'd rather eat the processed version, then I politely decline your invitation to dinner, thank you very much.

January 29, 2011

This recipe was originally developed by Kenji Lopez-Alt, and has since been updated by Sasha Marx after additional testing to add a salsa brava component to the recipe, and link to our updated 2-minute aioli (allioli) recipe.

1:40

How to Make Patatas Bravas with Aioli

Recipe Facts

4.5

(4)

Prep: 15 mins
Active: 25 mins
Total: 45 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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Ingredients

For the Salsa Brava:

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 small onion (5 ounces; 140g), roughly chopped

  • 3 medium garlic cloves (15g), roughly chopped

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon (10g) pimentón dulce (sweet smoked Spanish paprika)

  • 2 teaspoons (6g) pimentón picante (hot smoked Spanish paprika) (see note)

  • 1 tablespoon (15g) tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons (15g) all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup (240ml) homemade chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth

  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) sherry vinegar

For the Potatoes:

  • 2 pounds (900g) russet potatoes, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) distilled white vinegar

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 cups (710ml) peanut or canola oil, for frying

For Serving:

  • 1 cup (240ml) allioli, for serving

Directions

  1. For the Salsa Brava: In a 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and garlic, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and just beginning to brown on the edges, 5 to 7 minutes.

    Onions and garlic cooked in a saucepan until softened.

    Vicky Wasik

  2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add sweet and hot pimentón, stir to combine, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring constantly, until tomato paste turns dark brick red, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined and mixture begins to stick to bottom of saucepan, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

    Adding paprika, tomato paste, and flour to onion mixture for salsa brava

    Vicky Wasik

  3. Add stock, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a heat-resistant spatula to prevent sticking and scorching, until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a countertop blender or immersion blender jar, along with sherry vinegar. Blend on high speed until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Season with salt to taste. Transfer to a bowl or airtight container (or a pastry bag or squeeze bottle if you prefer a precise drizzle), cover with plastic, pressing plastic wrap against the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming, and set aside until ready to use. (Once sauce has cooled to room temperature, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)

    Adding chicken stock and simmering until thickened to a saucy consistency, then blending salsa brava into a smooth sauce.

    Vicky Wasik

  4. For the Potatoes: Place potatoes in a large saucepan or pot and cover with 2 quarts (1.9L) water. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until potatoes are tender and offer little resistance when poked with a paring knife, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

    Cubed potatoes that have been simmered in water until tender, draining in a colander.

    Vicky Wasik

  5. In a 12-inch cast iron straight-sided sauté pan or large Dutch oven, heat oil to 350°F (175°C). Add potatoes in single layer and cook, shaking the pan and flipping the potatoes with a slotted spatula or tongs occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Using slotted spoon or wire-mesh spider, transfer potatoes to a paper towel-lined bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Frying potatoes in a cast iron skillet until golden brown

    Vicky Wasik

  6. For Serving: Transfer potatoes to a large serving dish or divide between individual plates, drizzle with salsa brava and allioli, and serve, passing extra salsa brava and allioli at the table.

    A small serving plate of patatas bravas drizzled with salsa brava and allioli

    Vicky Wasik

Special Equipment

3-quart saucepan, countertop or immersion blender, 12-inch cast iron straight-sided sauté pan or large Dutch oven, spider skimmer

Notes

Both sweet and hot pimentón can be found at specialty grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Spanish specialty shops, and online. If you prefer a more mild salsa brava, reduce the amount of hot pimentón to 1 teaspoon (3g).

If you would like to keep the dish vegetarian, use water or vegetable stock in place of chicken stock in the salsa brava.

Make-Ahead and Storage

This dish is best enjoyed immediately. The salsa brava and allioli can be made in advance and refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 5 days (the same applies if you end up with any left over sauces).

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
590 Calories
46g Fat
40g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 590
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 46g 59%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 48mg 16%
Sodium 460mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 14%
Dietary Fiber 5g 16%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 15mg 76%
Calcium 49mg 4%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 987mg 21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)