This technically means “brave potatoes” but what we’re talking about here is “spicy.” This recipe originates in Spain, but think of it as the best home fries you’ve ever tasted. Crunchy potatoes, spicy tomatoes, and a rich garlicky aïoli – what could be bad here ?!?! The aïoli recipe will make more than you need, but it keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks – use it in other stuff like my Caesar dressing or as a moisturizer (Just kidding.) (Sort of.)
- 2 pounds russet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- One 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar works also in a pinch)
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 egg
- 1 cup neutral-flavored oil, such as canola, vegetable, grapeseed
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (lemon juice works in a pinch as well)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 3 liters canola oil, for frying
Prep the potatoes: Bring a large pot of generously salted water (it should taste like the ocean) to boil over high heat. While water is boiling, peel and dice the potatoes into ¾- inch cubes and cover with cold water in a large bowl to prevent them from turning brown. Once the water is boiling, lift the potatoes out of the cold water, add them to the boiling water, return to a boil and cook until the potatoes can be pierced with a skewer but are still al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, then arrange in a single layer on a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet to cool.
Make the bravas sauce: Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly golden, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, smoked paprika, vinegar, cayenne, and bay leaf, bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, season with more salt, and cover with foil to keep warm.
Make the aioli: Combine the egg, 2 tablespoons of the oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic, and salt in a blender or small bowl of a food processor and blend. With the motor running, drizzle in the rest of the oil in a very thin stream (this should take at least a minute) to create a thick, mayonnaise-like texture. Season with more salt to taste.
Note: If aioli “breaks” during the emulsification process, no worries. Transfer it to a cup, then add another egg and a teaspoon of mustard to the empty blender and blend. Slowly drizzle the broken aioli back in while motor is running to emulsify.
Fry the potatoes and plate the dish: Heat the oil in a large (at least 5 quart) pot to 350°F. (Use a candy thermometer, or test the oil by dropping in a piece of sandwich bread into the oil; if it sizzles and begins to crisp and brown right away, it’s ready). Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Working in 2 batches, gently lower the potatoes into the oil and fry, stirring during the first minute so they don’t stick together, until golden brown and crisp, 6 to 7 minutes. Use a spider to lift the potatoes onto the towel-lined sheet and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with second batch of potatoes. Put the potatoes on a serving platter and dollop with the brava sauce and aïoli.