Patatas panaderas / Sauteed potatoes
As a student in Spain in the 1980’s money was always tight, but our worries were few. Life was cheap and all we cared about was to squeeze every drop of living out of a student city that gave more than it ever took. Students then as today were hungry little beasts to say the least and always in search of the cheapest, most filling meal they could find. In those years, the only fast food restaurants that slowly began popping up their ugly extractor fan chimneys did so in the larger cities like Madrid or Barcelona.
Students usually ate at home if their parents lived close to the university, but those who came from the villages or other parts of the country either cooked in their communes or ate at student canteens. The food was simple, authentic, with no frills and made from the tastiest ingredients the land could offer. It was also cheap!
Every now and then I remember those days with great fondness, and recreating the dishes I once enjoyed with such gusto transports me back to a carefree period in my life that can only be relived with the tastes and smells of the time.
The end of the month blues seem to be getting worse as prices of goods soar and the products is supermarkets become more expensive and less appealing to the taste even if more so to the eye. We get bombarded with advice about what to eat and what not to eat, and ever so often are presented with flavour of the month dishes and products we have to consume to become healthier in a world that is slowly trading the pleasure of eating good, simple, tasty home-cooked food for the mass-produced varieties out there.
Food should not only be about the act of subsiding one’s hunger, it should be a social factor that brings rich and poor around tables all over the world and makes people bond and share the joys of life.
I’d like share with you one of my favourite dishes cooked in all parts of Spain. Patatas panderas or sautéed potatoes is one of those super simple, robust dishes that don’t break the bank and burst with flavour. The main ingredients are potato, onion, smoked paprika, olive oil and salt. These potatoes can be served as a side dish for meat, as a base for fish or simply eaten as a light meal. In today’s version I decided to add a few more ingredients to make it a bit more luxurious.
Two potatoes, one onion, a sprinkling of smoked paprika, some salt, two eggs, olive oil and a few slices of Spanish chorizo.
Peel and cut the potatoes in thin circular slices. Chop the onion. Cut the chorizo into small slices. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and fry the potatoes, onion and chorizo with the paprika and some salt until the potatoes are soft and the onion is translucent. I normally put a lid on the pan which helps to cook the potatoes in their own steam. Once the potatoes, onions and chorizo are 95% done I put two whole, raw eggs on the top and cover the pan until the eggs are cooked. Season to taste.
I wouldn’t recommend this dish for summer as it can be quite filling, but sometimes my need for this type of food overrides any concept of what should or shouldn’t be eaten at a certain season.