Rioja is a large wine region in Spain and is home to one of my favorite red wine grape varietals: Tempranillo. When I got a Spanish cookbook by Jose Andres (my favorite Spanish chef) for Christmas, I pretty much sat down and read it cover to cover. (Yes, I really do that.) After reading Jose’s description of this dish, and knowing how much I love wines from this region, I knew I would have to try this recipe from Rioja.
“Paul Bocuse, the godfather of nouvelle cuisine…famously sampled a plate of Patatas a la Riojana [while visiting Spain].
His judgment: it’s one of the greatest dishes created by man.”
I pretty much have to agree with this assessment: this is a flavorful, hearty dish, packed with rich, smoky flavors.
Rioja-Style Potatoes with Chorizo (Patatas a la Riojana)
3 T Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 cup)
6-7 oz Spanish chorizo sausage, cut into ¼” to ½” thick slices
2 small Idaho potatoes (½ lb), peeled and cut into 1” cubes
1 t pimentón (Spanish smoked sweet paprika)
½ to 1 t salt
1½ C (12 oz) water
Few sprigs parsley, chopped (optional)
Heat the olive oil over low heat in a large shallow pan. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned, about one minute. Add the onions and cook, sizzling, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and tender and have turned a light brown color, at least 20 minutes. Make sure the onions caramelize but don’t burn. If they start to get too dark, add a teaspoon or so of water to keep them from burning.
When the onions are caramelized, add the chorizo and continue frying until it too is browned, about two minutes. Add the potatoes in the pan and stir to coat them in the oil. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add the pimentón and the salt, and pour in just enough water to mostly cover the mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through and the water is reduced by half and thickened, about 20 minutes.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread.
Recipe from the Jose Andres cookbook Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America
Step by Step Details
This recipe relies on two crucial ingredients: pimentón and Spanish chorizo. Pimentón is sweet Spanish paprika, which you can read about here. Most grocery stores sell some form of smoked paprika, in case you can’t find actual pimentón.
Make sure to use authentic Spanish chorizo (in the dried sausage form, not the fresh/frozen ground form, like Mexican chorizo) for this recipe. Spanish chorizo might require a visit to a more upscale grocery store, a Spanish foods store, or an online site such as at La Tienda, The Spanish Table, or Jose Andres Foods.
Start with the prep work. Mince the garlic, chop the onion, and peel and cut the potatoes into dice-sized cubes, no more than an inch.
Slice the chorizo into thin slices, about ½” thick. Sampling is encouraged, but don’t forget to save enough for the recipe!
Now, let’s get cooking. Warm the olive oil over low heat in a large shallow pan. Add the minced garlic. Cook until gently sizzling and lightly browned, about one minute, then add the onions. Cook the onions on low heat, but high enough that they sizzle a bit, stirring occasionally.
Keep cooking until they are soft and tender and have turned a light brown color, at least 20 minutes. Make sure the onions caramelize but don’t burn. If they start to get too dark, add a teaspoon or so of water to keep them from burning.
When the onions are caramelized, add the chorizo to the pan.
Cook, stirring, until the chorizo is browned, about two minutes, and then add the potatoes to the pan. Stir to coat them in the oil. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add the pimentón and the salt, then pour in just enough water to mostly cover the mixture.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through and the water is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. It will have thickened, almost into the consistency of a nice gravy.
Top with chopped parsley and serve slices of crusty bread. Lots of bread, to mop up every last bit of this amazing sauce.
This dish pairs remarkably well with most red wines, especially a Spanish Tempranillo (no surprise there). Enjoy!