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School of tapas: patatas con alioli

>> Thursday, June 2, 2011

Patatas alioli 1

I am starting a new series of articles on the most popular type of dish or at least the best known type of Spain gastronomy: tapas. I already have some tapas recipes in this blog (just click the label tapas at the bottom of this post), but never before thought about making a real series out of this type of dish. The trouble with tapas is that they’re so familiar to Spaniards that we don’t really get the hype about them. It’s not that they’re not delicious. It’s not that an array of colorful tapas is not perfect for entertaining either small or large parties. It’s just that we take tapas for granted.


Therefore I intend to change my mindset and try to think like a non-Spaniard looking for scrumptious, colorful and easy-to-make tapas. And what is a tapa? Well, you all know it is essentially a small appetizer that’s always served alongside drinks in Spanish bars and restaurants. Even though today a tapa can be made out of literally anything, with for example stews or soups served in tapa-sized portions, I prefer the very traditional choices, small bites that have been around for many years already. So let’s start with the first element I’ve chosen for this series, a real tapa classic: patatas con alioli, meaning potatoes with alioli sauce. Now that the barbecue season is starting all over the northern hemisphere, you’ll find this potato-salad-like appetizer to be a great addition to any respectable barbecue party. And this tapa can be made in advance and kept in the fridge.

Patatas alioli 3

Patatas con alioli is a kind of potato salad dressed with a strong garlic sauce. Alioli is made up of the Catalonian words all-i-oli, which literally translate into garlic-and-oil. Different variations of this sauce are typical throughout the Mediterranean coast of Spain (and it can also be found in France and Italy), where it is prepared by thoroughly mashing garlic cloves in a mortar to release their juices, to which a steady thin stream of olive oil is added until an emulsion is formed that looks whiter and somehow more translucent than classic mayonnaise. Because genuine alioli is not garlic mayonnaise. Although garlic mayonnaise can be used too for this potato tapa. And in fact it is used most often than not; I’m going to use it here because emulsifying the oil with the only aid of the garlic juices is a tricky matter. Believe me, I’ve tried it. It can take you more than one whole hour to add all the oil needed, drop after drop, till you get a reasonable amount of alioli. And spoiling the emulsion during the making process is the easiest thing to do.

Patatas con alioli

For the garlic mayonnaise

  • 1 whole egg
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 dash lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup mild olive oil (the oil must be mild, otherwise the sauce will taste too strong)
For the alioli potatoes
  • 4 medium potatoes (1 per person for a tapa-sized portion)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Some sprigs of parsley
Patatas alioli 2

Instructions
  1. Thoroughly wash the potatoes. Put them unpeeled in a saucepan and cover with cold water.
  2. Add the salt and the bay leaf.
  3. Put on high heat, bring to a rolling boil and cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes, depending on the quality of the potatoes. Add more water if needed before the potatoes are cooked. Prick with a knife to check for doneness.
  4. When cooked, turn off the heat and leave the potatoes to temper in the water another 20 minutes. Then rinse and leave to cool completely.
  5. Prepare the garlic mayonnaise while the potatoes cool down: peel the garlic cloves, cut them in half and pry out the germ (the sprout in the center of the cloves), as it is supposed to be the cause of the garlic’s digestive aggressivity. Dice the cloves.
  6. Mash the garlic cloves in a mortar with a pinch of salt or process them to a puree in a food processor (if it can handle such a small amount of ingredients).
  7. Put the egg, which should be at ambient temperature, in a blender or food processor.
  8. Add the garlic, the salt and a dash of lemon juice. Pulse to mix.
  9. Switch on the blender and start adding the oil in a steady thin stream through the lid, till you finish all the oil and the mixture has thickened and emulsified. When done, test for seasoning. If you find the sauce too garlicky for your taste, you can always add a ¼ cup more of oil, but not more as one egg yolk can only emulsify a certain total amount of oil. Also I recommend to keep the sauce on the salty side, as you need the sauce to outweigh the blandness of the potatoes.
  10. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks, put them in a salad bowl or in individual small bowls. Add the sauce to the potato chunks and toss to cover well.
  11. To finish, finely chop a few sprigs of parsley and sprinkle on top of the potatoes.
Just a warning: as the homemade garlic mayonnaise carries raw eggs, you must get hold of the freshest eggs you can find and always keep the alioli in the fridge for no longer than 3 days.

Serve on a warm day with a very cold beer, fino or even better… with a chilled sangría. Salud!

Patatas alioli 4

20 comentarios:

bellini June 2, 2011 at 4:52 PM  

I first saw this on Honest Cooking Miriam. It looked delicious then and still looks delicious now!!

Jenn June 2, 2011 at 5:56 PM  

Gorgeous photos and what a beautiful potato dish!

Jennifurla June 2, 2011 at 6:21 PM  

Oh delish, I could eat the whole bowl!

Belinda @zomppa June 2, 2011 at 7:10 PM  

By the looks of this, I'm gonna really love this series!

MARARIA June 3, 2011 at 8:22 AM  

Delicious your patatas con alioli.
I like yogur blog!

MARARIA June 3, 2011 at 8:31 AM  

I'm sorry, I forgot to tell you that they are also very rich if they are cut into cubes, frying them slowly at first to be made ​​inside and then high heat to crisp the outside will call them "hollow potatoes " (patatas huecas) and are great foro ali olí and salsa brava.

zorra June 3, 2011 at 2:16 PM  

Great idea! Looking forward to see all your tapsa.

Frank June 3, 2011 at 2:25 PM  

I love aioli with boiled vegetables of all kinds but potatoes are indeed my favorites! Yum, yum!

Maria June 4, 2011 at 9:21 AM  

Wonderful flavours in this dish, I'm very intrigued to try!

Trix June 4, 2011 at 1:42 PM  

This is a really awesome idea for a series - I am so looking forward to seeing what dishes you highlight. You are VERY lucky to live in a country where you get take such a wonderful tradition granted, that's for sure. I am very intrigued by this garlic and oil emulsion ... sounds tricky, but the sort of challenge I adore.

Jun June 5, 2011 at 2:08 PM  

I will be looking forward to the rest of your tapas series. Even for people who are not familiar with Spanish cuisine like myself, we are never disappointed with tapas platters. I can't wait to see the rest of it.

By the way, I will be trying the mayonnaise recipe of yours. It sounds wonderful! Maybe it is a "byebye" for store-bought mayo for me.

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets June 6, 2011 at 12:54 PM  

Mmm that looks so good -- always wanted to try my hand at aioli.

lisa is cooking June 8, 2011 at 9:40 PM  

An alioli with just garlic and oil sounds scary to attempt! Sounds delicious though and so does this garlic mayonnaise!

Nuts about food June 9, 2011 at 11:17 AM  

Oops, just as I was about to tell you I had an award for you as my new favorite blog when I realized you don't participate in these things. I had never left a comment yet, so I didn't know when I mentioned you on my blog. I hope you don't mind that I linked to your blog and will respect your wishes from now on. Let me know if you prefer for me to erase the link! Ciao!

tasteofbeirut June 9, 2011 at 2:07 PM  

I was first introduced to aioli when I went living in the south of France; love it on potatoes like this!

Claudie June 9, 2011 at 7:06 PM  

Wow. This looks really tasty! Haven't had patatas con alioli before, so I'll look forward to testing this recipe!

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris June 11, 2011 at 8:04 AM  

I will follow this section closely. I even bought a book about tapas, in my first visit to San Sebastian..When I was living in Pau, we used to drive to San Sebastian Saturday nights to eat tapas (yes, you guessed right: I am crazy, my husband too, plus he is an adventurous driver... ;D

Jamie June 11, 2011 at 1:07 PM  

Gorgeous photos! And yay I have always wanted to make a series of tapas since our visit to Spain but for some reason it is all so daunting and I don't know where to start. I can now follow your recipes!

Luv'n Spoonfuls June 12, 2011 at 5:38 PM  

Thank you for the timely tips on the alioli. I made some for the first time a couple of weeks ago after visiting a tapas restaurant and falling IN LOVE with it. But it did come out quite strong, so now I know what I need to do differently. Can't wait to try your recipe!

What A Dish! October 10, 2011 at 10:12 PM  

Thank you for doing this Tapas series- so fun!!! Love lookung at your recipes.

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