While cooking, listen to this: The Chain by Fleetwood Mac
It should come as a surprise to no one that Ann Arbor's been on my mind lately. Committing four years of your life somewhere will do that to you. But while my time at Michigan was filled with learning experiences, laugh-filled adventures and my first real heartbreak, there was one thing Ann Arbor never lacked. And that was food.
Living in New York, I'm truly spoiled by the over-abundance of world-class restaurants at my disposal. I mean, you can essentially close your eyes, spin around and point your finger at anywhere on a map and you're bound to find somewhere neraby to tickle your palate. But Ann Arbor really brought it's A game when it came to food. Of course, you have the super-famous Zingerman's deli - everyone's favorite sandwich-spot, but there were quite a few others that popped up over my four years there. Mani Osteria had the wood-burning oven pizza down and I still dream about Isalita's steak nachos. One restaurant I never got around to visiting was Aventura, owned by the same woman who ran Sava's, another Ann Arbor favorite of mine.
Aventura opened my senior year and its claim to fame - the dish that was broadcast on every Instagram account - was the sweet potato patatas bravas topped with a fried egg. The most magical of all dishes. While brooding over our basketball team's loss last week, I found myself wishing I had a plate to munch on. Thankfully, Rina tinkered with a couple recipes and made the most magnificent plate of tapas I've had since I visited Spain in the tenth grade with my family.
Normally, I'm not a huge sweet potato fan. I like them, I'll eat them, but something about them doesn't do it for me. But doused with brava sauce and aioli? Heck, I'd eat you if you were douse in brava sauce and aioli.
It was basically brunch time when we finally finished shooting this last weekend, and so, the perfect addition to your brunch menu was discovered. Rina and I practically licked out plates clean and proceeded to guffaw at the minimal amount of work these patatas required.
Next time you don't feel like grocery shopping on a Saturday AM, try digging up the ingredients for this recipe in your pantry and fridge. I bet you have these items on hand. If not, might I recommend thinking ahead and buying some sweet potatoes, eggs, canned tomatoes and seasoning for a rainy day? No need to thank me, you're growling stomach says it all. Though I'm never opposed to hearing your thoughts in the comments. Happy brunching!
SWEET PATATAS BRAVAS WITH CRISPY EGG
Yield: 2 meal servings, 4 tapas servings (just make 2 more eggs)
Active Time: 20m | Inactive Time: 45m + 24h for aioli chilling
Category: Snacks, Appetizers, Main, Gluten-Free, Spanish
Special Equipment: stand or hand mixer, immersion or high-speed blender
Note: this recipe looks super involved but is actually very easy - everything can be done at the same time, so you won't be spending half a day in your kitchen slaving over this.
Note, part 2: we didn't refrigerate our aioli for 24 hours because we were impatient and hungry, so ours only went in the fridge for an hour or so - it was very thin but still tasted great, so if you don't have the extra time you can go our route instead.
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
3-4 teaspoons honey, depending on taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup olive oil
½ cup canola oil
sweet potato fries:
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, cut into fry shapes
2 Tablespoons salt, plus more to season
2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon hot paprika*
1 15-ounce can whole tomatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, small-dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon hot paprika*
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
⅛ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
Few dashes of your favorite hot sauce (we went with Chalula)
Big glug neutral oil
Salt and pepper, to season
*we only had regular paprika and this still tasted great, so don't fret if you can't find the hot stuff.
Prep: preheat the oven to 435 F.
Make the aioli: in the bowl of your mixer whisk together the egg, egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add the olive oil until thick and mixed evenly. Scoop into a container and refrigerate for 24 hours before using.
Make the sweet potato fries: place the cut sweet potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover the fries. Add in 2 Tablespoons of salt and the distilled white vinegar and bring to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 5 minutes, then strain. Place the fries on baking sheets, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt, and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the fries and cook for 10-15 minutes more, until they're starting to brown but aren't burning.
Make the brava sauce: while the fries are boiling/baking away, put the whole canned tomatoes in a bowl and crush them with your hands (this feels AWESOME) until you get 1-inch-or-so pieces. Set aside, and on medium heat, heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pot until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic, paprika and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute, stirring, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes plus their liquid, water, salt, bay leaf and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until it's thick and reduced by about half. Remove the bay leaf. If using an immersion blender, add the vinegar and hot sauce and blend until smooth. If using a high-speed blender, transfer sauce to blender, add vinegar and hot sauce and blend until smooth. Taste and season with more salt, vinegar or hot sauce if necessary.
Plate: place a layer of sweet potato fries onto a plate, season with paprika and drizzle the brava sauce and honey aioli on top.
Make the crispy eggs: place a dry, small pan on high heat for 1 minute. Add the neutral oil and heat for 30 seconds, until it's just starting to smoke. Crack an egg into a small bowl to check for shell (and, if applicable to your dietary restrictions, blood spots), then pour into the pan and STAND BACK - this shit sputters like you wouldn't believe, but you're doing it right! Allow to cook for about 1 minute without touching it - it will start going brown and crispy around the edges. You can spoon some of the hot oil onto the egg whites, especially the bits closest to the yolk that take the longest to cook. Cook for another 30 seconds or so, until the egg white is set. Use a spatula to free any stuck bits and get that egg out of there. Place directly onto the sweet potato fries and dig in.
To keep: the aioli can be kept in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, and the brava sauce can be kept in a tightly sealed container for up to 1 week in the fridge. The sweet potato fries and crispy eggs should be made and consumed immediately.