This is a take on the famous Spanish dish of patatas a lo pobre – it is wondrous in its simplicity yet divine in its complexity of flavours. There is little like it – I could easily eat it on its own – or it could just as easily accompany anything from lamb to fish. I ate it in Menorca last August snuggling up to a snow white slice of monkfish and it was delectable – I swear I can still taste it when I close my eyes. That version was with green peppers. This one is based on Nigel Slater’s version from ‘Eat’.
750 kg baby new potatoes – scrubbed and halved
A red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 red peppers – deseeded and cut into thin strips
Large red onion sliced thinly
A clove of garlic finely chopped
Pinch of smoked paprika
Large knob of butter – about 75 gm
500 gm vegetable stock
A small bunch of basil finely sliced
Heat oil in a sauté pan. Place pots in cut side down with the chilli. Leave them for about 5 or 10 minutes while you deal with the peppers. Add them to the pan, then the onion and garlic. Then the paprika.
Pop in the butter and stir until all get coated nicely.
Leave again for about 10 to 15 minutes to get the potatoes browning in that very attractive fashion they have. Have a drink.
Then pour in the stock, bring to the boil, season a little. Cover with a lid and simmer for around 20 to 30 minutes until the stock has evaporated down a lot. I took the lid off for the last five minutes and crushed most of the potatoes ever so lightly with a masher to soak up the magical juice.
Stir in the basil at the end.
I served this alongside a loin chop pan fried slowly in a little olive oil. Half way through cooking I grated over the zest of a lemon and sprinkled lots of thyme and black pepper.
The resulting meal was one of those I simply wanted to prolong as much as possible – the flavours were straight from heaven – a Spanish heaven in this case – somewhere possibly just outside Granada or Zaragoza.
This is the grandaddy of the versions – but you could just do it with the spuds, onions, pepper and stock with a little seasoning.
If you have never tried this I urge you to. Soon.