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Jun 5, 2019

Patatas Bravas with Tomato Aioli

Patatas Bravas, crispy potatoes with a spicy smoky roasted tomato sauce, are one of the most popular bar snacks in Spain. 

Patatas Bravas with Tomato Aioli

I loved the crispy crunchy "crust" and creamy inside of these papas bravas, and they were so incredibly delicious dipped in this roasted tomato aioli sauce.

I usually think that fried potatoes are never the same when reheated, but these potatoes were just as good when reheated, even the next day. If you want to make these in advance and serve them at your tapas party by giving them a quick bake in the oven, go for it.

What are patatas bravas?

Patatas bravas (brave potatoes, how fun is that?) are potatoes cut into bite-sized chunks and deep fried. They are always on the menu at Spanish tapas bars, usually served with a smoky and spicy tomato based salsa brava and sometimes served with a garlic aioli sauce. 

The salsa brava is usually comprised of tomatoes along with a bit of onion, garlic, cayenne, smoked paprika, and a dash of hot sauce. It's spicy, but not really hot. 

For the sauce for these patatas bravas, I decided to combine the flavors of salsa brava with the flavors of garlic aioli for a spicy tomato aioli sauce. After all, in Spain, the sauce is different from bar to bar, and there are no hard and fast rules. 

Crispy Patatas Bravas with Tomato Aioli

Typically, the potatoes are served with the sauce drizzled on top, but they can also be served with the sauce on the side for dipping. 

How to Make Patatas Bravas:

First, you peel and cut potatoes into 1 inch cubes and then parboil them. As recommended by Serious Eats, I added some vinegar to the boiling water, which prevents the potatoes from crumbling. 

Once you've parboiled the potatoes, you fry them in hot oil for about five minutes, until they are golden and crispy. After you have fried the potatoes, you then transfer them to a preheated sheet pan in a 375 degree oven and bake them for 10 minutes to further crisp them up. 

To make patatas bravas in advance...

Make the patatas bravas as per the recipe instructions. Let the potatoes cool and then place them in an air tight container and place them in the refrigerator. 

When you are ready to serve the potatoes, reheat them for 10 minutes in a 375 degree F oven to re-crisp them. You will love how crispy they become! 

Another make-ahead tip: you can also parboil the potatoes for these patatas bravas up to 2 hours in advance of frying them. 

Bowl of Crispy Patatas Bravas with Tomato Aioli

You can also make the sauce up to a week in advance. I did cheat a little and use prepared mayonnaise for the aioli (or allioli, as it's called in Spain). 

Actually, traditional Catalan allioli does not even include egg. It's just garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil that is made in a mortar and pestle until it reaches the consistency of mayonnaise. 

For this sauce, I sautéed onions, garlic, and smoked paprika, and then processed the mixture with a roasted tomato, hot sauce, vinegar, and mayonnaise. The potatoes were delicious dipped in the sauce. 

Crispy Patatas Bravas with Roasted Tomato Aioli

About 15 years ago, we had an opportunity to visit Barcelona after a week-long stay in Provence hosted by my dad. We wanted to take advantage of already being in Europe and see at least one other city. 

One of the hardest things to figure out in Spain was the mealtimes. There seemed to be about six mealtimes, some optional and some mandatory, especially La Comida (the biggest meal of the day). It was so interesting to see school children walking home for La Comida at 1:30 in the afternoon, and returning to school an hour and a half later. They actually got out of school at 5 pm. 

Dinnertime in Spain:

La Cena (dinner) usually begins around 10 pm, and is usually fairly light, with salad, ham, cheese, fruit, and maybe a Spanish omelette. While common wisdom is that eating late will affect your weight, everyone in Barcelona seemed to be pretty slim and trim. Jealous. 

Which brings us to La Hora del Aperitivo (Tapas Hour), which begins around 8:30 pm. It's when the bars fill up and the food is meant to go with cocktails. 

Tapas can include shrimp and other fish, croquettes, little sandwiches, gazpacho, meatballs, ham, cheeses, Spanish tortilla, calamares, a little salad, and always patatas bravas. 

Patatas Bravas with Roasted Tomato Aioli

June 21st is World Tapas Day! If you'd like to host a tapas party, be sure to include patatas bravas. Other suggestions include these spinach, ham, and cheese puff pastry bites, spicy citrus and mango shrimp cocktail, smoked Gouda spread, grilled summer vegetable gazpacho, and pimentón potted shrimp. Serve this orange pomegranate sangria. Your guests will be very happy.

For more tapas ideas, check out the other #FoodieExtravaganza Spanish Tapas recipes this month!

Patatas Bravas with Tomato Aioli

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Author: Karen Kerr
Patatas Bravas, crispy potatoes with a spicy smoky roasted tomato sauce, are one of the most popular bar snacks in Spain.


For the Roasted Tomato Aioli
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika 
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 large plum tomato, cut in half, seeds scooped out, and roasted in the oven until soft
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce such as Tabasco or Tapatio
  • 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For the Potatoes
  • 2 pounds white or red potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cups peanut or canola oil for frying
  • Smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to taste
  • Minced Italian parsley


How to cook Patatas Bravas with Tomato Aioli

To Make the Roasted Tomato Aioli
  1. Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. 
  2. Add the paprika and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring. 
  3. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. 
  4. Combine the onion mixture, mayonnaise, roasted tomato, hot sauce, and vinegar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. The sauce can be made up to a week in advance. 
To Make the Potatoes
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F with a sheet pan in the oven. 
  2. Line a large plate with paper towels. 
  3. To a medium saucepan, add the potatoes and 2 quarts of water. Add the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. 
  4. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat so that it doesn't boil over, and cook for about 7 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain, return the potatoes to the pot, and cook over low heat to cook off any excess moisture, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with kosher salt,  and set aside for up to 2 hours. 
  5. In a 6 quart Dutch oven or sauce pan (or cast iron straight-sided sauté pan), heat the oil over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F. 
  6. Add the potatoes to the pan and cook, stirring and turning the potatoes occasionally with a mesh spider or slotted spoon for about 5 to 8 minutes, until golden brown. 
  7. Transfer the potatoes to the paper towel lined plate to drain. 
  8. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spread the potatoes in a single layer. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes for extra crispiness. 
  9. Season the potatoes with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. 
  10. Sprinkle with the minced parsley. 
  11. Serve hot with the roasted tomato aioli. 
  12. Leftover potatoes can be reheated in a 375 degree F oven for 10 minutes. 
potatoes, tapas, salsa, aioli
Created using The Recipes Generator

Recipe inspired by Serious Eats, The Food Network (Bobby Flay), and La Tienda

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Would you like to comment?

  1. I love the idea of potatoes that are reheatable! And your aioli looks really delicious. Thank you for participating in this months event!

  2. Well these look absolutely incredible. I'm drooling here.

  3. That sauce! Never mind the crispy potatoes, I could eat it with a spoon, Karen. We had the same issue with Spanish mealtimes when our girls were little. Nothing was open when it was their normal dinner time of about 6-6:30 p.m., not even in the touristy areas. Fortunately we were staying in a small apartment with a kitchen!

    1. One theory is that they are in the wrong time zone and should have the same time zone as GB.


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