Hello again! Amidst my time in Spain, I must say that the food opened my mind to a new idea. They have very simple food with very complex flavors. On our first night in Spain, we wandered to a hole-in-the-wall bar with these little dishes called “pinxtos”. Essentially, they are a little taste of one of their local dishes, spiked with a toothpick. Moreover, you can eat as many as you want and when finished with each dish, you keep the toothpicks. At the end of the meal, you “cash in” your toothpicks and that’s how they charge you. This dish was one of the first pinxtos that was served and they had a wedge of crispy potato with a saffron aioli—it was love at first bite. I knew from that moment on, that my interpretation of food would be forever changed (for the better). In addition, I was dead-set on mastering the recipe. After several valiant efforts, I think I have finally nailed it. Let’s get started!
5 large Yukon gold potatoes
½ gallon canola oil
7 garlic cloves
2 egg yolks
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 cups olive oil
6 chives, chopped
First, add the oil to a heavy bottomed pan, such as a Dutch oven or a cast-iron skillet. Place over a high flame and insert a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature of the oil. You want to bring the first cooking or blanch of the potatoes to an oil temp of 250 degrees. While the oil comes to temp, scrub and rinse your potatoes and then pat dry. Next, cut them into wedges about an inch to an inch and a half in size. Once the oil is ready, add the potatoes carefully and allow to blanch for about 5 minutes. Essentially, blanching is that first cook to kind of keep that original integrity of the potato, while still keeping the inside soft and pillow-like. After five minutes has passed, remove the potatoes and transfer to a sheet pan—set in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so to allow them to cool back down. From there, spike your oil up to 350 degrees, as this is where the potatoes will actually fry and become crispy. Once the oil comes to temp, add the potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and crispy. Remove from the oil and transfer to a sheet pan, lined with paper towel. Immediately season with salt and pepper.
While those cool, whip up the aioli:
In the bowl of a food processor-fitted with a steel blade-add the egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice and zest, vinegar and salt and pepper. Turn the food processor on for about a minute and then open the lid and stream in the olive oil until the ingredients emulsify. Transfer the aioli to a serving bowl and top with chopped chive. Last, dip the potatoes in the aioli and prepare to become hooked. Honestly, this dish takes me back to the streets of Spain and I have since made it a staple in my house. I hope you do the same.