(Patatas a la Riojana)
In making this dish, cooks in Rioja traditionally crack the potatoes apart with their hands instead of cutting them, a process said to release just enough starch to thicken the sauce.
Yield: serves 6-8
- 5 medium russet potatoes, peeled
- 5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> lb. lamb riblets, separated
- 6 oz. pork shoulder, cut into 2" chunks
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and finely diced
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> green bell pepper, stemmed, cored, seeded, and diced
- 8-10 oz. Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1/2"-thick pieces
- 3 Tbsp. sweet Spanish paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 dried guindilla or other dried red hot chile3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- Leaves from 6 sprigs parsley, chopped
- Insert the tip of a knife into each potato far enough to begin splitting it in half, then wedge your thumbs into the crack and break potato apart. Repeat the process with potato halves, quartering them. Heat 3 tbsp. of the oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add potatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, 5–7 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat remaining oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Season lamb and pork with salt, add to pot, and lightly brown all over, about 2 minutes. Add onions, peppers, chorizo, paprika, bay leaf, and chile and cook until vegetables are soft, 2–3 minutes. Stir in garlic and parsley. Add 6 cups boiling water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes. Add potatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, potatoes are soft and sauce has thickened, 45-60 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Discard bay leaf. Transfer to a warm tureento serve at the table, if you like.
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