I was really pumped by all the suggestions that you guys left in the comments on my post last Friday! There were tons of great suggestions and I actually have plans to try a lot of them out over the next few weeks.
For some reason though the Spanish dish that Tony suggested really caught my eye.
Tapas is one of my favorite ways to eat and for some reason I don’t make a lot of Spanish food for Macheesmo.
While this dish is traditionally called Patatas a la Riojana, it’s basically spicy potatoes so that’s what I called it. Don’t let the simple name lead you to think that this is a simple dish. The flavors are complex and warming and wonderful.
That said, it is actually pretty simple to make which is nice!
1) Dice onions and peppers finely. Add oil to a large pot over medium heat. Once hot add veggies and cook until veggies are soft, but not browned, about 5-6 minutes.
2) Slice chorizo into coins (or use ground) and add to pot. Cook until chorizo is cooked through.
3) Meanwhile, peel and chop potatoes.
4) Season veggies and chorizo with paprika. Add in potatoes and stir to combine.
5) Add three-four cups water to the pot. The water should almost cover everything.
6) Add whole garlic head and dried chiles to the pot and bring to a slight simmer. Simmer for 25-30 minutes.
7) Remove dried peppers and garlic. Use a spoon to scrape the insides out of the dried chiles. Remove garlic from the paper and dice peppers and garlic together.
8) Add that mixture back to the pot and continue to simmer until thick, another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
9) Serve with parsley and lots of crusty bread.
Lots of veggies
There’s actually not a lot of individual ingredients in this recipe but there is a lot of each ingredient if that makes sense. It starts off with a whole onion and two whole peppers which is actually quite a lot of veggies.
Once they are all diced, it’s probably three cups of just veggies.
You’ll also want about a pound of chorizo or spicy sausage for this. This is where a lot of the flavor comes from in the dish.
I do think you could make a vegetarian version of this dish pretty easily, but I would just add some additional spices to the pot like chili powder, hot paprika, and maybe some red pepper flakes.
Starting the dish
To start the dish add the olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Then toss in all the veggies and cook them for about 6 minutes until they are nice and soft, but not browned.
Then you can go ahead and add in your chorizo. I chopped mine into little discs, but you could also use ground if you wanted.
Cook this until the chorizo is browned. A lot of the fat will melt out of the sausage and season the veggies even more.
Then add some paprika. I like sweet paprika for this because the chorizo is already plenty spicy, but you could use hot paprika if you wanted to up the heat even more.
Feel free to use a heavy hand with the paprika. That’s what gives the dish its wonderful color.
While the chorizo is cooking, you can prepare the potatoes that give this dish its name. Potatoes aren’t hard to prepare but it does help to have a good peeler. This peeler is the best one I’ve used even though it’s from an infomercial!
When you’re chopping the potatoes, keep them in pretty large chunks. And don’t worry about making them perfectly even either.
This next technique is pretty cool and one that I picked up from a youtube video about making this dish. I, of course, can’t find the exact video now or I would link to it.
Basically, we are going to simmer the potatoes with the veggies and chorizo, but also use it as an opportunity to add in some extra flavors.
Add the potatoes to the pot and enough water to almost cover everything. Then just add the whole 1/2 head of garlic and dried chiles to the pot. As this all simmers, this will gently flavor the dish.
Let this all simmer for about 30 minutes. At that point the potatoes should be mostly cooked.
Remove the dried chiles and the garlic.
Cut open the chiles and use a spoon to scrape out the flesh of the chiles. There won’t be much there, but what is there is super-flavorful. Also, remove the garlic cloves from the head of garlic and then chop everything together into a paste – a very flavorful and delicious paste.
Add that back to the pot along with some salt and pepper and let the whole thing simmer for another 10 minutes or so.
There should be some liquid left, but it should be pretty thick, almost like a stew.
Serve this up with some fresh parsley on top (optional) and lots of crusty bread.
The dish will be pretty spicy and the bread helps kill some of the heat. It’s also a perfect vehicle for all the delicious sauce that will be in the bowl!
My favorite thing about this recipe is the technique with the dried chiles and garlic. I’m definitely going to use that in the future for other stuff. It gave the dish a really deep and interesting flavor.
This is a really hearty dish that’s perfect for a cool February night.
Give it a shot if you’re in the mood for some tapas!