patatas a la riojana


An empty pantry.

It means different things in different countries. In the US, for me, it usually means a "slop" (code for beans and rice and cheese and hot sauce all mushed and mixed together).

In Spain, an empty pantry takes on a new meaning. We currently have one, and our past few meals have been: vegetable paella, pasta with tomato frito and cheese, and tortilla Española. But things are getting really bad, really empty.That means--

patatas a la riojana.

Because in a Spanish kitchen, there's always a HUGE bag of potatoes. And definitely always onions and wine. Oh, and don't forget that musty link of cured meat that you bought a while back and forgot about.  Et voila! All the ingredients of this dish, which hails from the nearby Rioja region (and pairs perfectly, I might add, with red wine).  It's humble, but it's rich and, as happens with so many stews, a lot better than its original components.

patatas a la riojana

  • about 10 small potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks or coins
  • one small onion, chopped
  • two cloves garlic, minced
  • a green pepper or two, if you have it (I used Pimientos de Padrón)
  • a link of Spanish chorizo (dulce or picante), sliced
  • a cup of white wine
  • dash of paprika
  • a bay leaf (optional)
  • a dried chile (optional)
  • a few tbsps of olive oil
  • water to cover

Heat oil over med. heat. Add onion and garlic, saute for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add potato pieces and more oil if necessary, seasoning with salt and pepper. Saute another ten or so minutes.  Add chorizo slices, paprika, bay leaf and chile, and saute another couple minutes. Add wine, simmer until well reduced. Add water almost to cover, allow to simmer until reduced to a thick sauce. Taste and season if neccesary.