My braised potatoes are cooked down in a tomato-based sauce with traditional Puerto Rican sofrito. If you’re not familiar with braising, basically they’re roasted in seasoned liquid resulting in a pan of miniature crispy-skinned potatoes. Then, you’re left with a rich sofrito sauce reduction to garnish your potato with.
So here’s a crash course on sofrito. It’s various types of herbs, aromatic veggies, and peppers blended together … similar to a mirepoix of French cuisine. It’s found throughout many cultures. The Puerto Rican sofrito I use is straight out of the cookbook of Chef Daisy Martinez. You can check out my interpretation of her recipe for a more complete explanation. Or you can watch her make it on YouTube.
Making the sofrito is the only time-intensive part of this recipe, so be sure to make it ahead of time. After that, braised potatoes are extremely easy to make. You pretty much leave them alone and let them do their thing. Actually, when first testing the recipe I completely forgot about them for a little while and the world didn’t end.
Use baby potatoes. They’re small enough to cook thoroughly in a little over an hour but big enough to form one substantial layer. None of them should be stacked on top of one another because with each one needs room to breathe. This way they have the same heat exposure in all sides. Many recipes for braised potatoes use fingerling potatoes piled up in a pan, but that’s not what I’m going for.
A crucial step here will be to drop the potatoes into a pot of rolling-boiling water before going into the oven … for no longer that 5 minutes. This gets the exteriors cooking first, so the potatoes cook from the outside-in while the skins get nice and crispy. Don’t drop them in all at once because it will drop the temperature of the water. Instead, slide the in gradually one at a time. Once in the oven, the high temperature will do it’s work on crisping the pre-cooked skins. The potatoes will undergo a combination of boiling and roasting while the sofrito sauce slowly cooks down.
- 20-24 baby potatoes
- 1 cup Puerto Rican sofrito
- 1 can (14 oz.) plain tomato sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Spanish onion
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
Instructionsfor braised potatoes
- Preheat your over to 400 degrees.
- In a large pot, fill half way with salted water. Bring to a boil.
- Gradually add the potatoes. Boil the potatoes at a rolling boil for 5 minutes.
- Drain the water and coat the potatoes in canola oil. Transfer the potatoes to a baking dish to form one layer.
- Fill the baking dish with water just enough so the tip of the potatoes are exposed. If your sofrito is frozen, thaw it. Stir in the sofrito, tomato sauce, kosher salt. Toss the potatoes in the sauce so everything is evenly distributed and coated.
- Squeeze in two onion halves and place the bay leaves in the liquid.
- Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes.