Friday, 1 April 2011

Simple supper in Lent 4 -Patatas a lo pobre

This is comfort food. Again. What can I say? I am suffering from stress currently and food like this is the culinary equivalent of a great big hug. Patatas a lo pobre is an Andalucian dish which I learnt about in Salamanca. Yes, odd I know, but it is served as tapas all over Spain, and there was a really good Andalucian tapas bar near my flat in Salamanca. I spent ages there learning Spanish, and more importantly, learning how to cook Spanish tapas from the elderly couple who ran the place with their son and his family. Anyhow, this is best eaten outside as the evening cools, with a glass of something chilled and the birds singing. It is the reward of a hard days work. Some day, you can also try adding spicy chorizo sausage and a fried egg right at the end, and you will be in a sudden 'not quite junk food' related heaven. The thing about this dinner is that, so far, every Spaniard I have met has disagreed about exact technique and ingredients. It is definitely the sort of thing that is best done my mothers everywhere, and is only really perfect when cooked like it is done 'at home'. Good luck.

Anyhow, you need (for about 4 people)

4 large potatoes, thinly sliced (you can leave these in water for about 20 minutes to get rid of the starch, and then drain before you cook)
1 green pepper, cut into thick strips
1 onion roughly chopped
Garlic (if you like?) Up to 8 cloves.
about 1/2 a litre of olive oil (I know! It sounds like loads, but trust me)

In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil. Add the sliced potatoes, chopped onion, peppers and garlic to a bowl season with salt, and mix together with your hands to ensure seasoning is even. Add this mixture to the pan and fry on a high heat for about 10 minutes, turning the potatoes over. Then, turn the heat right down. Put a lid on the pan and gently fry for about another 10 minutes. Check from time to time to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. The odd shake does not go amiss. Check if the potatoes are cooked and add more salt if necessary. You are aiming for soft potatoes, although a little crisping adds to colour and flavour. If you think the potatoes need another few minutes or so, just pop the lid back on. It doesn't matter if the potatoes break up a little, this dish is about flavour. When done, remove the potatoes from the pan with a slotted spoon and serve.

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