Let them eat… Patatas a lo pobre (Poor man’s potatoes)

This is an Andalucian dish – or more like it is the Andalucian name for it. It is served all over Spain and here in Ibiza it is the typical accompaniment when you have baked fish. God, what a delight. Fried potatoes that are then baked alongside really big, ugly, firm fleshed rock fish like rotxa or John Dory. Why is it I wonder that the more ugly the fish, the tastier it is?

The better fish restaurants take these fish and do almost nothing to them but bake them with a bit of wine and these potatoes. The potatoes are prepared first because despite these big boned mothers being able to handle a some fairly hot baking, potatoes need a head start to avoid overcooking the fish.

You can also eat patatas a lo pobre deliciously next to chicken, rabbit, pork chops etc. Think unctuous potatoes next to golden meat.

To make them you need to heat up some olive oil and put in half a baker’s dozen of unpeeled whole garlic cloves. As they are gently sautéing, peel and slice half a kilo of red Ibiza potatoes. DO NOT SETTLE FOR LESS – IBIZA RED POTATOES OR NOTHING (unless of course you cant get them, in which case get the best waxy potatoes you can get and don’t settle for less the next time). Put them into the oil with the garlic. Peel an onion and slice it into fingernail moons and add to the pan. Rip up the pepper, discarding the seeds and stalk then add to the pan. Once everything is in, turn the heat up to medium and stir occasionally till it is cooked.

This is one of those dishes that can be prepared as you are cooking it – ie, whilst the garlic is frying, you be peeling the potatoes and whilst the potatoes are frying you can peel the onion and so on. You can also prepare this ahead of time and reheat later.

If you are doing it with a rock fish, get your monger to gut that mother, season it with salt and pepper, splash him with wine, add the cooked potatoes and bake it all in a hot oven (180 degrees with fan, 210 without) until it’s done. (Sorry, timing’s impossible – simply when skin breaks and flesh comes away from the bone, it is done. You may have to take it out, look at it and put it back a couple of times. Its head should look like something from a horror film with all the flesh coming away and its eyes popping out.)

When deciding how much oil to put in always veer on the side of recklessness and know that with olive oil, more is best…

Olive oil
1 head of garlic
½ kilo potatoes
1 onion
1 super crisp long Italian green pepper

Fry unpeeled garlic
Fry peeled, sliced potatoes
Fry peeled chopped garlic
Fry sliced onion
Fry deseeded ripped up green peppers