Recipe: Patatas Caliente con Mayonesa Ajo

This tapas recipe comes from Spain’s Catalan region. Have plenty of chilled lemonade, sangria, agua fresca, or horchata available to douse the flames – these little spuds are smokin’ hot!

This makes for perfect toothpick munchies for a backyard grill party.

Patatas Caliente con Mayonesa Ajo

The Garlic Mayonnaise:

¾ cup low- or nonfat mayonnaise or vegenaise (depends on your taste buds)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons garlic paste (about 4 cloves mashed)
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl, cover, and refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend.

The Chili Oil:

¾ cup olive oil
2 small hot red chiles, sliced thin lengthwise
1¼ teaspoon Spanish paprika

I highly recommend you use vinyl food handler gloves when slicing the chiles, and make sure the kitchen is well-ventilated.

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and the chile slices over medium-high heat until the chiles begin to sizzle.

Do not allow the oil to reach its smoke point!

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the Spanish paprika.

Let cool, then transfer to a small liquid measuring cup or salad dressing cruet. You will need the pouring spout to evenly drizzle the oil over the potatoes.

The Potatoes:

2¼ lbs. red potatoes, unpeeled
Olive oil
Sea salt crystals in a grinder
Toothpicks

Wash the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels or a cloth kitchen towel. Dice the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Line a baking sheet with a few loosely crumpled dry paper towels and set aside.

Over medium high heat in a large, thick-bottomed skillet, heat ½ of an inch of the olive oil and one potato cube until the potato begins to sizzle. When it does, add more potato cubes, being careful not to crowd them. You will have to work in batches; if you have more than one thick-bottomed skillet this will go much faster, as you can do 2 skillets at a time. Sauté the potato cubes, stirring and turning frequently, until they are tender and golden brown on all sides.

When the potatoes are done, use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer them to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Use more paper towels to soak up any excess oil. Sprinkle with ground sea salt crystals.

Transfer the potato cubes to a serving platter and drizzle evenly with the chili oil, shaking the platter a bit to spread the heat around. Stick each cube with a toothpick – or provide the toothpicks in a small dish on the side for your guests – and serve with the chilled Garlic Mayonnaise (transfer the mayo to a small serving bowl and keep chilled in a larger bowl filled with crushed ice if this is going to sit outside for any length of time).

Yield: 6-8 appetizer servings

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