My first trip to Europe was in my early 20s to visit my sister who was studying abroad in Spain. We traveled all over Spain and Portugal together, soaking up as much culture as two girls who were barely legal to drink possibly could. I remember lots of museums, churches and tapas bars. Beaches with giant boulders that formed beautiful archways right on the sand. I also remember being starving a lot of the time! For two girls who didn’t eat any beef, pork or poultry, it turned out that Spain was a really bad culinary choice to visit. By the third day, I had eaten all the squid I could possibly stomach in a lifetime. It was then that my sister introduced me to the one food she had been living on since she had arrived there several months prior – Patatas Bravas.
I’m not even going to try to make these things sound fancier than they are. Patatas Bravas are fries! But different. They’re crusty and crunchy on the outside, soft and mushy (the good kind of mushy) on the inside, and slathered in a spicy, smoky sauce, i.e. the “bravas” sauce. You could find Patatas Bravas everywhere in Spain. From tapas bars to fast food restaurants, they were thankfully on the menu wherever we were. And since our options were pretty limited, we ate them every day, typically along with a big glass of Spanish red.
My sister has been making her version of Patatas Bravas forever. They’re Mini Me’s favorite. My sister will only make them on the grill, and even though I have tried to show her that they can be successfully pulled off in the oven, I honor her method because she knows it best. After all, she did live on them for 6 months, whereas I only lived on them for 2 weeks. She uses very specific seasonings on both the potatoes and in the Bravas sauce because they’re the closest thing to what she remembers eating in Spain. These potatoes simple and straightforward, and if the texture doesn’t win you over, the sauce definitely will. They’re an amazing side to any protein you’re grilling. I make them alongside my Spanish Tilapia with Wilted Greens because, you know, the Spanish thing.
I’m giving you the oven directions as well as the grill directions (don’t tell my sister), and they’re honestly really good both ways. The grill will give you a better crust on them, obvi. Just make them and enjoy!
For the Potatoes
- 5 lbs. russet potatoes
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup Montreal Steak Seasoning (reserve 2 Tbsp. for sprinkling after cooking)
For the Bravas Sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 tsp. Saint Lucifer Habanero Spice (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder + 1/2 tsp. salt + 1/4 tsp. paprika + 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper)
Wash and scrub potatoes. Dry them with paper towels and cut into thick wedges. Soak in a big bowl of water for at least 20 minutes. Remove from water and dry them again with paper towels.
Toss the potato wedges with olive oil and steak seasoning.
Grill instructions: Place directly on grill grates set to medium-high heat. Cook 8-10 minutes, then flip and cook until there are grill marks on both sides and the potatoes are fork-tender.
Oven instructions: Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping half way through the cooking time. Turn heat up to 450 degrees and bake another 10 minutes, or until they reach the desired crispness.
Sprinkle the reserved steak seasoning over the hot potatoes and serve with Bravas sauce.