What was the best meal my daughters and I had in Barcelona? It was, surprisingly, the one we and our fellow students made at Barcelona Cooking.
Then we met our fellow students and instructor, and were divided into pairings for each tapa.
I was paired with a lovely woman from Canada to make a fancy version of Patatas Bravas.
Arielle was paired with a man from Switzerland for Gazpacho.
And Emily worked with a woman from Switzerland on Sobrassada & Pear Pincho.
Aside from learning to cook a few great dishes, I learned a number of things I did not know. Key among them was to use regular olive oil, not extra virgin, for cooking over heat. Why, the smoking point. EVOO breaks down over high heat and releases toxins, regular olive oil, made with both cold and hot pressings, stands up to the heat of cooking. EVOO is best used raw. Honestly, this blew my mind!
I also learned that Arielle can use a kitchen torch without burning the house down.
At home I will make a healthier version of Patatas Bravas cooking the potatoes in the oven, but here I will share a version of the recipe we used.
slightly adapted from Barcelona Cooking
16 baby/new potatoes, scrubbed
1 medium onion, sliced julienne
10g spicy Spanish (smoked) paprika
1 clove garlic
2 lbs tomatoes
1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste, less if you want less heat in the sauce)
10g sweet Spanish (smoked) paprika
1 cup olive oil
Cut the tomatoes in half and pressing the flesh-side against the grater, grate the tomatoes into a bowl, discard the skin.
Hollow out the center of each potato with a small melon-baller.
In a deep skillet, heat about 2 1/2 inches of olive oil over low heat. Confit the potatoes by submerging them in the oil and gently cook until they are tender. Remove the potatoes from the oil and set-aside. Turn off the heat but leave the oil in the pan for the second round of frying.
In another skillet, sweat the onion until the strips are tender but not browned (just starting to turn color). Then add the two types of paprika to the pan, as well as the cayenne pepper, and cook gently for two more minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pan and allow the mixture to simmer for 20 mins before blending and straining the resulting sauce (we didn’t strain the sauce).
Set the sauce aside for when it is time to plate the potatoes.
Make the alioli: blend the egg, garlic, and one cup of oil with a hand blender until thick and creamy, add salt to taste and set this sauce aside as well. Note: Hold the blender still until the sauce is about 3/4 emulsified, then you can move it around.
To finish the patatas bravas fry the potatoes again, in very hot oil (around 375F) until crisp and golden brown. Once done, move them to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. For serving fill each potato with some of the red brava sauce, then top that sauce with a dollop of white alioli. Serve and Enjoy!!
Makes 8 servings, with extra sauce for other use.