Patatas a la Riojana

My grandmother was from La Rioja, a wonderful part of the Spanish geography where the colours of both landscape and buildings change from red to yellow depending on where you are.

The region, side by side with another amazing potato producing area called Araba ( the southern province of the Basque Country), has always enjoyed an amazing combination of great fruits from the earth and fantastic healthy animals and its regional cooking reflects this.

My grandmother used to cook this dish with her mother to take it to her father, who worked the land, for lunch.

She told me that she would deliver it using a terracotta casserole to transport it, as this kept the food warm. (La Rioja also has amazing earth cookingware ) The wine though, which she also delivered to accompany the dish, was transported in a “bota de vino” (wineskin bottle) instead.

Cooking time:15 minutes + 30 Minutes
Quantity: This mix makes 5 portions

Tips:

1. I use a chorizo that is not cured. You can buy it on a deli as chorizo for grilling/ roasting

2. Use a potato that is not too waxy. The ones you want will tend to disintegrate a bit on the edges but this will make the sauce thicker.

3. Buy a good quality paprika. It is always better to buy a small pack and run out of it than forgetting it in the back of your cupboard. Same as with curry, if you use old spices you will not get much flavour. I like Spanish one because it’s smoky.

4. Use the freshest garlic that you can find. I recently found a lovely one slightly larger than the normal but more fragrant.

5. For the wine choose something earthy but with a bit of sharpness. I like Rioja wine (that is where the recipe comes from afterall).

By the way, there are those who believe that you can use bad wine for cooking but I tend to disagree. In life, i am afraid, you always get out what you put in. ( yes, cooking, and philosophy, two for one) this is not to say that you have to choose an expensive one. A good tasting table wine will do fine and thankfully, now-a-days there are many of those at the shops.

Ingredients:

1.5 Kg of potatoes
1 onion
1 long chorizo.(If you buy sausage like sized ones, 1 per person)
4 large garlic cloves
1 medium glass of red wine (175 ml)
750 ml of chicken stock
4 bay leafs
4 spoon full of olive oil
1 teaspoon of pimenton (paprika)

Cooking Instructions:

Peel the onion and slice it. Slice the garlic too.

Heat up the oil, add the onion and the chorizo cut onto chunks and leave cooking until the onion is transparent.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them on pieces 2 inch (3 cm) rough cubes.

When the onion is transparent, add the garlic and cook slowly. When soft add the wine and let cook for a while until reduces to half.

Add the pimento and bay leaves and mix. Add the potatoes and the chicken stock and leave to simmer for half an hour.

For best enjoyment, serve warm on a really cold day.

Photograph by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Recipe by Maria Cristina Ruiz Gonzalez (My grandma) and Cristina Lanz-Azcarate

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