That is Patatas A la Importancia. You won’t find it in the dictionaries. But in mine, that is what it equals to. It envelopes you like a familiar comforter on a cold, winter night.
When in Salamanca, we were regulars at a small vegetarian cafe called Cafe Atelier. They had good food and minimalist decor that gave us a warm feeling. A brother and a sister are running the cafe. They bickered about things that I did not understand exactly but that back-and-forth in Spanish was a wonderful, calming background noise to me. She made this dish several times in March and April but then stopped making once the weather got warmer. I kept asking for it but got the same answer “In winter, dear, in winter”. I wish I can remember her name now to mention it here! How rude of me! Dear sister who spent her days in the kitchen to make that delicious food: So sorry, if you are reading this.
I get it. It is winter food. It is simple, warm, full of wine, stock and garlic. You don’t want to eat it on a hot July afternoon. Or cook it for that matter.
But she did cook it for me before I left Salamanca in June probably because I wore her down with my persistent asking. I am shameless like that when it comes to food. We managed to settle on a date three days before I was flying to Turkey. I went there, ate a huge bowl and then packed my suitcases in a happy state after I got home. (Here is the one she made for me!) She was also nice (and patient!) enough to describe to me how she makes the dish. No measurements, just “add this and that , and see how it tastes”. My kinda recipe :)
I stayed with the tradition and waited for the weather to get cold to make this dish. Next time I go to Salamanca, I will make sure it is between October and March where I have the highest chance of eating her patatas a la importancia. I would love to see those cathedrals when the snow is falling and me wrapped up with a glass of Rioja and a bowl of this potatoes. Comfort food at its best.
Patatas A La Importancia
Makes 4 servings
- 1 kg (2 lbs) yellow potatoes
- 1/2 cups of flour
- 2 eggs
- Vegetable oil for frying the potatoes
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced (I had pearl onions only, I used about 1 cup of them as whole)
- 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 250 ml of dry white wine
- 500 ml of chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup of finely chopped Italian parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and slice the potatoes about 1/2 inch thick. Rinse and dry with kitchen towel.
Whisk the eggs in a shallow bowl, put flour in another dish.
Pour the vegetable oil in a cast iron pan or frying pan about 1/4 inch deep. Turn the heat to medium – medium/high.
Once the oil is sizzling, coat the potato slices with flour first, then the egg. Place in oil carefully, trying not to disturb the egg coat. In about 2 min, once the bottom side is golden color, flip the slices, again trying not to disturb the egg coat. About two minutes later, once the other side is golden color, place the potato slices in a plate, lined with paper towel. Continue with the next batch of potatoes.
Once done with the potatoes, coat the bottom of a wide heavy pan with olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Add onions and saute until the color changes to translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute.
Add wine and stock to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Carefully add/layer the potatoes without breaking the skin. Bring it to a boil for several minutes, then reduce to a simmer at medium-low heat. Place the lid on top but leave it cracked open. Check time to time to make sure there is enough liquid, if not, add more stock.I like having a good bit of stock to dip my bread.
Once the potatoes are cooked (just pierce with a sharp knife through one of them to check), add parsley, cover tightly and reduce the heat to low for another five minutes. Turn off the heat and ladle it into bowls. Serve it with bread and wine.