I spent a lot of my childhood holidays on the Costa del Sol, soaking up the Andalucian atmosphere. When I went to secondary school I chose Spanish as my second language (French was compulsory!), and ever since then Spain has been in my blood. I love the culture, and the food, although not their obsession with all things pork. As an adult I even spent a week living with a Spanish family, a holiday filled with memorable meals. They were worried I would be fussy, but the only thing I turned down was squid cooked in its own ink.
‘Patatas a lo pobre’ (Poor Man’s Potatoes) is a traditional rustic Spanish dish of potato slices slowly fried on olive oil with sliced onion and sweet peppers. It’s a common dish out in the countryside, where all of the ingredients would be home-grown – even to the glass of red wine that accompanies it. But although it may be frugal, it’s not short on flavour.
‘Patatas a lo rico’ (Rich Man’s Potatoes) is my ‘upgraded’ version, with chorizo.
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 large potatoes (or a suitable number of smaller ones)
1 large sweet pepper
2 cloves garlic
A slug of olive oil
1 tsp paprika (pimentón in Spanish, optional)
Peel and slice the potatoes. You don’t want wafer-thin slices; about the thickness of a pound coin is fine. The rustic nature of the dish means that wonky slices are perfectly acceptable! Roughly chop the onion. De-seed the pepper and cut it into chunks. Peel and slice the garlic.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. When it’s hot enough to sizzle, throw everything in and fry slowly until the potatoes are cooked through and the onion is golden brown. If you have a lid for your frying pan then that will speed up the cooking process and save energy, but remember to stir occasionally. As the chorizo heats up it will exude a bit of red oil that adds colour and flavour to the whole dish.
Most meals in Spain are served with bread, which is useful with this dish to mop up the juices. And any bits that have cooked more than others and have gone crispy or caramelised are not burned – they’re the best bits!
There are several great things about ‘Patatas a lo rico’. It is quick and tasty and makes a great stand-by for lunch or a midweek supper. The quantities are flexible, depending on what you have available, and you can use it to finish off leftover boiled potatoes if you have them. Chorizo is a smoky Spanish cured sausage; it keeps for ages in the fridge and can be added to lots of dishes; if you have some to use up then try slicing it onto pizza. If you can’t find chorizo then leave it out or substitute a different sort of cured sausage, like pepperoni.
And, of course, vegetarians can simply revert to the standard ‘Patatas a lo pobre’, which is delicious in its own right :)