viernes, 14 de marzo de 2014

The Papas Arrugadas

The wrinkled Papas negras yema de huevo and the mojo de cilantro

Today we'll bring you a typical Canary Island recipe, where you can find a whole lot of variety of potatoes, or, as we call it in Canary Islands, "papas". Expecially in the island of Tenerife (where one of us two, Angie, was born) potatoes are being cultivated since the XIV century. Some of the variety of potatoes cultivated in the Canary Island are simply unique in the World.

Potatoes were brought here from America, specifically from Perù, where they are cultivated since more than 7000 years. Spanish "conquistadores" thought to bring this peculiar product back to Europe ad a sort of botanical curiosity, rather than a culinary delight. Canary Island, infact, as Admiral Nelson well knew, were a sort of strategical link between the Old and the New World. It is said that potatoes arrived well before in Canary islands than in Europe, and, thanks to the warm climate, the cultivation of this new product spread around the islands and created many unique varieties. Some kind of potatoes, infact, just exists in the Peruan Andes and in Tenerife. One of them, perhaps the most famous of all, is known as the Papa Negra, the Black Potato. Today we'll talk about it!

Papas negras de yema de huevo
Within the papa negra's world exists just so many sub-varieties, and the most peculiar is the papa negra yema de huevo, that is "black potato egg yolk". This kind of papa negra it's well known for being very small, despite existing many exceptions, and because of the colour of its interior, very yellow, just like egg yolks.

In today's cuisine, with the fashion of modern and innovative dishes, this papa is being somehow rediscovered by famous chefs worldwide. This gourmet potato is known also as the "black truffle of Canary Islands". But this exquisite product is far from being a luxury delicatessen in Canary Island cuisine: it has been used infact in the Island's traditional cuisine for centuries, for example in our recipe of the Canary Islands Stuffed Potatoes. Many different kind of dishes can be prepared with this gorgeous kind of potato, but its own quality allows the papa negra to being the auhentical solo queen of the table. Often the papas negras are served together with the Mojos Canarios sauces (we'll talk about them in another post) but there are an infinite list of dishes that really screams for having beside the papas negras! There are modern dishes where you can find the black potatoes, but the most traditional one, the most fascinating and the most historical too is without a doubt the recipe known as the Papas Arrugadas (or in english, "wrinkled potatoes")

An old potato farmer in Canary Island

Logically, you can use whatever kind of potatoes in order to obtain papas arrugadas, Today's recipe is just an attempt to get you inside the faboulous world of Canary Island potatoes. The only things you'll really need to obtain papas arrugadas is to look in your local shop for the smallest round shaped and high quality potatoes you can find, since the papas arrugadas are to be eaten without taking of their skin.

  • Potatoes
  • Sea Salt
  • Water
The ingredients
You'll never hear someone from Canary islands telling you exact quantities of ingredients, since this recipe is somehow "instinctive", since no one never measure the quantity of salt that the water needs and the quantity of potatoes used depends on how many people we'll have eating with us, but we'll give you some rough measure in order to obtain good papas arrugadas. For each kilogram of potatoes, we'll add 250 grams of salt. Don't be afraid of tossing too much salt to the water, since the papas negras will absorb just the exact quantity of salt they'll need, and the rest will remain in the skin or in the pot. It may be interesting to notice that in some places near the shore it was used directly the salted water of the sea, and today this practice is still in use in some case. In the past people used also to conserve the salted water used to cook the potatoes, so that the water was ready for the next use even without adding more salt, but this practice has almost disappeared.


We'll toss the potatoes well washed without peeling their skins in a pot, and we remember that we'll eat the papas arrugadas with their skins, so wash them very well. We add water without covering the potatoes completely and we add salt.
the potatoes semi-covered with water
the potatoes and the salt
Put te pot over high heat until you'll see the water boiling, and then pinch a potato with a fork until you see it's cooked. Please be careful of not pinching too much the potatoes in this step, otherwise too much salted water would enter your papas negras and they would be too salted. You could choose a potato that we think is ready and pinch it in order to see if it's soft enough, or simply pinch a potato in the upper part of our pot.
The exact timing of this phase it depends on the kind of potato you're using. With the papas negras yema de huevo, since they're extremely small, they will be ready in a matter of minutes, between five and ten minutes after the water starts boiling to be more precise. If the potatoes are bigger, you'll need more time, and you'll see lowering the level of the water. This is normal and helps the process.

When you'll have your potatoes are soft enough, we pour the water off the pot without taking off the papas negras. This is the crucial part, since you'll then put the potatoes again on the heat without the water. In this way you'll see the papas dry and wrinkled. Move the pot in order not to burn the potatoes, and you'll see them getting whiter and whiter: this is the salt of the water. After few minutes, we'll be ready to eat them! s Papas arrugadas are always to be eaten hot, that's how they taste best. Try them with sauces, mojos canarios, with fish dishes or meat dishes, they're simply unique...enjoy them!

ready to eat them!



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