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spanish patatas alioli

Happy 3rd birthday, littleclove!

I can hardly believe it’s been 3 years since my very first post. Back then I was able to post weekly….not so much anymore. But I’m not going anywhere because I have so many recipes I want to make and share with you. I can see on my stats page that lots of you are still with me, so thank you for sticking around!

:)

One of the recipes I’d been dying to try are these Spanish potatoes. A few weeks ago I was making breaded chicken…

…for my brother and sister-in-law who were coming over for dinner and I thought about these potatoes. I knew I had a recipe somewhere, so I started digging through my recipe file…er, I mean my enormous, unorganized pile of ripped out magazine pages, sticky notes, napkin scribbles and website printouts (I really need to remedy this), and there they were, looking all yummy and delicious.

This is the photo from the printout. Oh my goodness, aren’t they gorgeous?

This dish is called Spanish Roasted Potato Salad.

Ah, Spain.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to visit Barcelona for 3 days and I just fell in love with this little slice of heaven city. That’s me and my girl in a quaint little courtyard.

Barcelona is bustling, exciting, and vibrant, full of colors and life and art and people and food!
(And geese!)

Yes, food is serious business here.

I’d never seen anything like the Mercat de la Boqueria, an amazing open food market. Wow! We strolled around taking it all in while eating yummy grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and the best smoothies I’ve ever had. Of course I wanted to buy a little bit of everything, but couldn’t. We drooled over fruit, vegetables, spices, cheeses, cured meats, fish, every mushroom imaginable and row after winding row of everything under the sun. Even whole pigs! Why I can’t find any pictures of this place is a mystery to me because I know I took so many….but click on the link to see a little bit of what I’m talking about. It’s unbelievable!

And at night we had tapas (appetizers/snacks in Spain) in the early evening…..and then late dinners.

Don’t you love a culture that doesn’t eat dinner until 9, 10 or even 11pm? I do, because that leaves lots of time between work and dinner to eat tapas and drink really good Spanish wine.

I didn’t know a lot about tapas when I was there, but thanks to some good friends who are in the know, and our friends at Wikipedia, I’ve recently learned some interesting things. You can skip the next few paragraphs if you want to get straight to the food. I just happen to like learning the little food facts because it’s interesting to me, so I thought I’d share.

The word tapas is derived from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover” and it refers to a wide variety of appetizers or snacks in Spanish cuisine.  They may be cold, tapas frias (such as mixed olives and cheese) or warm, tapas calientes (such as fried baby squid).

The word tapas is actually plural, so if you picked up one of these tasty little snacks you’d be holding a tapa.

According to some, the original tapas were the slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Spanish taverns used to cover their glasses with in between sips to prevent fruit flies from hovering near their drink (tapar-“to cover”-tapas)…Is it just me, or is this stuff really interesting to know?

Because of this, restaurant owners began creating little snacks to serve with sherry, and eventually the tapas became as important as the sherry. There are some other theories out there about how tapas came about…one involving a sick king who could only eat small meals…..and another one about some tavern owners who were selling bad wine, and started “covering it” with the smell of strong cheese to disguise the bad wine. Ha!

Anyway, the whole idea of tapas now is to encourage conversation because people are not so focused upon eating an entire meal at once. I love that because this is how I love to eat….sharing one tasty little thing at a time, with lots of good conversation. You are not committed to one large meal, you can stop at any time or continue on if you feel like it. This works well with my indecisive nature. :)

It’s also a more inexpensive way to eat which is also a good thing.

Last week I went out for tapas to this cozy place with my friend Brendan, who has lived in Barcelona and goes back every summer (lucky him). We started out with 2 glasses of red wine, some olives and bread that we dipped in olive oil. Mmmm….I could be happy sitting for hours with just this! (And more wine, of course)

Brendan wanted me to try a dish called tortilla de patata, that he had eaten in Spain. Yummy! It was sort of like a frittata with potatoes in it. He said that this version was too egg-y and traditionally it is flatter and not so fluffy. I really liked it anyway. We also ordered tomato bread with manchego cheese and jamón Serrano (cured ham). The combination of manchego cheese with the ham on a piece of tomato bread was so good! I really wanted to order a few more things to try because it all looked so good and I really do love to be able to taste different things, but we were in a time crunch and couldn’t stay. Oh well, next time!

So these patatas alioli are my little tapas gift to you.   :)

When I first came across this recipe and saw the photo, I assumed these potatoes were served warm because of how roasted they looked. But when I read the original recipe it says to let the potatoes cool after they come out of the oven. I guess the words potato salad should have clued me in to the fact that it’s a tapas frias (or would that be tapa fria?), meaning served cold, or at room temperature. I wanted ours warm, so I decided to serve them right out of the oven, but feel free to let yours cool.

I roasted the potatoes until they were crispy golden brown on the outside, and buttery creamy on the inside. I could eat them one after another just like this right off the pan, but wait…..cue the angels singing….

The alioli.

(Angels singing!)

All-ee-ohlee. We’re talking about the Spanish version as opposed to the French aioli. The name alioli comes from the Catalan words for the two main ingredients, all (garlic),  and oli (oil).  Pure, authentic alioli is made from just 3 ingredients, garlic, olive oil and a little salt.

This authentic version of alioli is time-consuming and tricky, where you use a mortar and pestle and whole garlic cloves are minced into a thick paste. Then olive oil is slowly added, drip by drip and after about 30 minutes of hand mashing and mixing it becomes the consistency of mayonnaise.

The garlic acts as an emulsifier and thickens the sauce. Really?? I still can’t believe it, but it’s true.

But it doesn’t work every time. In fact, as I said it’s tricky to get it just right, so most alioli recipes call for one or two raw egg yolks that help tremendously with the emulsification.

With the addition of egg, you are now basically making mayonnaise.  Mayonnaise has egg in it, a true alioli, does not.

Because just thinking about grinding away at a mortar and pestle for a ½ hour gives me an arm ache, and not being a big raw egg yolk fan (I don’t want to make anyone sick!) I opted for Hellman’s mayonnaise, because boy do I love that stuff. It was actually used in the original recipe, too.

I think I’ll give authentic alioli a try someday, just to see if I can do it, but this was not the night to try.

I mixed the mayo, olive oil, garlic and salt together and then threw in some mustard and fresh lemon juice for some zing. As soon as the crispy warm potatoes came out of the oven, I poured the alioli over them and it just sort of melted into them.

Wow!  They were amazing. Warm and crispy and creamy and garlic-y and the lemon and mustard gave them a great tanginess.  Delicioso!

I really had a hard time getting them to the table. After all, I had to “test” them a few times to make sure they were good.

I have a small confession to make, though. And I’m telling you this so you don’t make the same mistake I did. While the potatoes were roasting, when I pulled them out to turn them mid-way, I boldly salted them out of habit, thinking they are like French fries….never too much salt, right?

Wrong.

There is plenty of salt on them already, plus the added salt in the alioli. Resist the temptation to add more salt as they are roasting!  Mine were a bit on the salty side, but still delicious.

I made these again the other night for a little tapas party I had with some friends. I didn’t add any more salt, and they were again, amazing. I should have doubled the recipe though, because we polished them off and then fought each other to mop up the bowl with our bread! My kind of fun.

Happy New Year.

Spanish Patatas Alioli
Inspired by MySocialChef, via Food52

Serves 3-4

1 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes, skins on, scrubbed clean, patted dry
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
4 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used Hellman’s)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I used Grey Poupon)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the potatoes in quarter chunks (or in ½ if they are really small) and place in a medium sized bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ¾ teaspoon of salt and the black pepper. Toss this together and put on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake the potatoes on middle rack for 40 minutes flipping twice during baking.  Make sure they turn a nice golden brown.  Resist the temptation to add more salt!

While the potatoes are roasting, you can make the alioli.  In a bowl, combine ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the chopped garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice and the Dijon mustard. Mix and pour over the potatoes when then come out of the oven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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