These little potatoes rocked my taste buds! Why wouldn’t they? I mean, salty potatoes with a spicy pepper and olive oil sauce? So dang good! These papas originate from the Canary Islands, and I’ll be honest, I’m not sure these are truly authentic. I’ve never been to the Canary Islands nor have I had the food at a restaurant. So this is my take on them- and regardless, they’re fantastic!
I discovered this scrumptious dish when I was looking at mojo sauces for the Florida Cuban Sandwich which then led to these yummilicious Mojo Pork Enchiladas. Something about the word mojo intrigues me. It sounds cool! Like, I’d like a little more mojo, please. Turn it up. Yup, I’m a dork like that. I put these potatoes on my mental list of something to try- eventually. So when I finally decided to make them, I had to do a little investigating first. For starters, where the heck are the Canary Islands? Had no clue. My guess was somewhere in the Mediterranean- Gary’s was somewhere in the Caribbean.
We were both wrong. The 7 Islands that make the Canary Islands are off the northwest coast of Africa, 62 miles west of the southern border of Morocco! But they’re an autonomous community (basically a territory) of Spain. Potatoes are the number one crop of the island with over 20 varieties grown, and papas arrugadas is the most popular dish of the isles. The papas are made by boiling potatoes in salt until the salt evaporates leaving the potatoes dry and wrinkly (arrugada) and covered in a white salt powder. I read somewhere the traditional potatoes used in this dish are small with a thick skin. The thick skin makes for some good wrinkling. I also read using small potatoes is the most important part of factor in choosing which potato to use.
I don’t have access to a small, thick skinned potato, so I used a salt potato that is popular here in NY that has about a cup of salt included in the package. I think red new potatoes or fingerlings would also be a good choice. I’m not sure what the type of hot red pepper used in the mojo sauce is, so I chose a habanero- mainly for its orange color. Jalapeno or serano would be fine as well. And don’t freak out about the amount of salt. They aren’t overly salty at all. These make a wonderful side to pair with a steak or chicken, or go the vegetarian route and eat as a main with a side salad. So like I said, this is my take on the tasty tapas and it really couldn’t be a simpler recipe to liven up your same ‘ol same ‘ol potato routine.
- 2 lbs. small new potatoes or salt potatoes
- ¼ cup salt
- 6 Tbsps. olive oil
- ½ habanero pepper, seeded, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
- 2 tsps. (4 cloves) garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. cumin
- ¼ tsp. salt
- pinch of sugar,
- ⅓ cup jarred roasted red pepper, chopped
- Place potatoes in a single layer in a large pot with the salt adding enough water to barely cover them. Bring to a boil on high heat and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make mojo sauce by placing all mojo ingredients EXCEPT red peppers in a small food processor and blend smooth. Add red peppers and pulse leaving the peppers a little chunky. Transfer to a small bowl.
- When the potatoes are fork tender, drain water and return the potatoes to the pot. Heat on medium heat and cook 2-3 minutes shaking the pot occasionally to dry the potatoes out and so the salt becomes powdery white and visible.
- Transfer potatoes to a bowl and serve with mojo sauce.