SPRING HAS SPRUNG boo boos. Everyone, myself included, is going mental for ramps and asparagus and fennel and leeks…. And then there’s potatoes. Poor potatoes hardly get any attention in the roster of spring veggies. Starchy, laden with carbs and generally subdued in color, they’re like the basic b*tch of the vegetable crew. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Because if you take a trip to a farmers’ market, you’ll see these tiny, beautiful, freshly harvested spuds, just waiting for you to cook and make them sing with a vibrant sauce.
A lot of people have tried patatas bravas, a really typical Spanish dish that’s coarsely chopped potatoes, kinda greasy, served with spicy bravas sauce. Patatas arrugadas, or wrinkled potatoes, is a Spanish dish from the Canary Islands that is lesser known in the USA, and in my humilde opinión, more delicious. There’s something about cooking potatoes in heavily salted water that changes the texture and makes them almost fluffy inside. I’m not positive but I think it has to do with the salt creating a seal around the potato as they cook, preventing them from becoming water logged and preserving their natural flavor. It also imbues them with a smooth saltiness.
Before the recipe, I want to share a little blogging process news with you. When I was living in Bilbao, I was posting all types of recipes on Back to Spain, but seeing as I was gathering inspiration from my surroundings, the recipes usually had a Spanish influence or were at least tied to a story set on the Iberian peninsula. Now that I’m Back2NYC and will likely be here for a while (I just signed a very grown up 2-year lease – next stop, East Village), I’ve decided to really focus on Spanish recipes. I want to explore classic dishes from all of the regions and, of course, throw my American and personal steez in there. So alert the media: BACK2SPAIN TO COOK SPANISH FOOD.
And now, the super simple recipe for patatas arrugadas, as well as a recipe for mojo picón, the spicy, smoky, peppery, garlicky sauce for dippin’. Cocinamos!
- 3/4 pound new potatoes, washed and any eyes removed
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water and add salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes or until semi-easy to piece with a fork, not tooootally cooked.
- Drain water and return to stove top with heat off. Cover with lid and let steam continue to cook potatoes. Check in eight minutes. The skin should be wrinkling and forming a white, salty crust. If potatoes are not wrinkling, add a splash of water, turn heat on medium, and cook until water evaporates and potatoes are sizzling. Turn off heat, shake around to prevent the skins from sticking to the bottom and cover again. Let steam for another five minutes and check again for wrinkles. Repeat the previous step until wrinkled.
- Serve potatoes hot and with mojo picón (see below).
- 4 dried peppers, not too spicy (I used chili pulla – choose a pepper based on how much spice you like)
- 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon smoky Hungarian paprika
- 1 tablespoon Panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/5 – 1/4 cup water, room temperature
- (Do ahead) submerge dry peppers in water and soak to soften for at least half hour.
- Using a handheld blender, blend peppers, garlic, salt, cumin and paprika into a paste.
- Slowly drizzle in a third of the oil and blend. Add breadcrumbs and continue to blend. Pour in another third of the oil and keep blending. Add a splash of water if the mixture is not blending thoroughly. Drizzle in the rest of the oil and blend until smooth, but just a little bit chunky. It should be thick enough to coat a spoon. Taste for saltiness and add salt as desired.