Sunday, May 20, 2012


Potatoes "a lo pobre," baked in a cazuela.
I’m on a potato kick. A basket of freshly-dug potatoes has inspired me to cook them just about every day. As much as I love eating steamed new potatoes with olive oil and chopped parsley, after a few days I’m ready for some variety.

Inspiration: freshly-dug potatoes.

Spain has dozens of different potato dishes (I counted 35 potato recipes in one of my Spanish cookbooks). Many of them are meant to be sturdy, economical main dishes. Such is Patatas a lo Pobre—“poor folk’s potatoes”—a classic recipe. It may be poor in meat, but is rich in flavor. And, while it serves nicely as a vegetarian dish, it is more frequently encountered as a side with fish, poultry or meat. I serve it alongside herb-roasted pork loin or baked beneath a whole fish.

Some folks call the dish patatas panaderas—“baker’s potatoes”—if it is made in an oven. The two recipes are pretty much the same—layers of sliced potatoes, plenty of olive oil, onion, garlic and parsley. The version I learned to make in the village also has juicy tomato slices and green pepper.

Tomatoes, onion, peppers and garlic flavor potatoes.

Poor Folk’s Potatoes
Patatas a lo Pobre

You can vary the basic recipe for potatoes a lo pobre. I sometimes add other vegetables such as sliced zucchini or shredded chard. Chopped ham or bacon turns “poor” into something a little richer. Substituting smoked pimentón (paprika) for regular pimentón gives an extra flavor dimension, especially traditional in Extremadura (western Spain), where smoked pimentón is made.

The potato casserole can be cooked on top of the stove instead of in the oven, but you will need to use more oil and more liquid. Don’t stir the potatoes, but shake the cazuela occasionally. The bottom layer may form a crust—a delicious bit to scrape up.

The potatoes can be peeled and sliced in advance—leave them covered with water until ready to assemble the casserole.

The cooked potatoes should be nice and juicy. If they are cooking too fast, add additional water or white wine so they don’t dry out.

Serves 6.

Ingredients to flavor potatoes.
3 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
1/3 cup olive oil   
2 teaspoons salt
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, cut in strips
1 large tomato, quartered and sliced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon crumbled dry thyme (optional)
1 teaspoon pimentón (paprika)
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place half the oil in a 3-quart cazuela or other heat-proof casserole. Arrange half the sliced potatoes in the casserole and sprinkle with half the salt. Top with half the sliced onion, green pepper, tomato, parsley and garlic.

Add remaining potatoes, sprinkle with salt and remaining onion, pepper, tomato, parsley and garlic. Sprinkle with thyme and pimentón. Pour over remaining oil, wine and 1/3 cup water.

If using a heat-proof casserole, place on a medium heat on top of the stove until the liquid begins to simmer. Then cover the casserole with a lid or foil and bake until potatoes are fork tender, about 60 minutes.

Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Note, Sept. 2019: All these years later, I realize I have been incorrectly calling this potato dish patatas a lo pobre. It's really patatas panaderas, or "baker's potatoes," always prepared in the oven. A recipe for the verdadero patatas a lo pobre is here.

1 comment:

  1. I've never had toms in this dish, sounds an interesting variation.

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