I would bet that every cuisine which utilizes potatoes has one or more recipes consisting of fried potatoes with peppers and onions; Papas pobres is the Spanish version. We have eaten papas pobres for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are an economical meal filled with vitamins and minerals from the vegetables and monounsaturated fat from the olive oil. Papas pobres isn’t diet food, however. This is stick to your ribs fare intended to nourish and satisfy the body until the next meal.
Now, I have to make a confession. I have difficulty frying perfect, pan-fried potatoes. Usually they stick to the pan and don’t get crispy. I’ve found the waxy type potato works best when I want to pan fry. I also get better results when I parboil the potatoes. To save a pan, I use my large wok shaped skillet (affiliate link) to both parboil and fry the potatoes in the same pan.
We often make these for a crowd. You want one fist sized potato for each person. For every four people use one whole onion and one whole green pepper plus one or two cloves of garlic. It’s best to prep all the vegetables first, keeping everything separate. You can parboil all the potatoes together in a large pot. Drain them and hold them in the same pot. Eyeball the portions and cook in batches. For example, if you are cooking eight servings, use half the potatoes, onion, peppers and garlic for the first batch. Don’t fuss about the proportions. This is one of those recipes that’s adaptable to whatever you have on hand. You don’t have to use green bell peppers if you have other colors available. If you’re short on potatoes, serve more bread. It’s really difficult to make papas pobres wrong.
- 4 waxy potatoes, skins washed and sliced thinly into quarter moon shaped pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons smoky paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the sliced potatoes in a pot and cover with an inch or so of water. Turn the heat to high and allow to come to a boil.
- Start testing the potatoes for doneness about 10 minutes after they start boiling. They should be a little tender, but still firm.
- Remove from heat and drain thoroughly in a colander.
- Add olive oil and paprika to a large skillet, dutch oven or stir fry pan and heat over medium high.
- Add the potatoes and give them a stir to cover with oil. Drop the onions, peppers and garlic on top of the potatoes and leave them for awhile. Season with salt and pepper.
- You want the potatoes on the bottom to develop a nice crust so to avoid disturbing them too soon, busy yourself for a few minutes by washing whatever dishes you have. Give the pan a shake every once in awhile, but don’t baby sit.
- Use a wooden spoon or firm spatula to kind of lift the potatoes off the bottom in a flipping motion that will distribute the peppers and onions at the same time. Allow a crust to form on the new potatoes on the bottom.
- If the pan seems too dry, you can add a little more olive oil.
- I’ll cook my papa pobres until the onions and peppers are very tender and the potatoes are cooked all the way through, about 20 minutes or so. Not all of the potatoes will have that nice crust on them, but you should have enough that everyone can have some in their portion.
Serve on small plates for a tapas sizes portion with an assortment of other tapas like sliced chorizo, cheese, olives and bread. For a meal, serve with one or two fried eggs or a small salad. You really can’t go wrong serving these at any meal. I’ve had them at 2 am after a night out on the town and oh my! they were good.
Do you have a favorite way to pan fry potatoes? Are you one of the tater masters who don’t have to parboil their spuds? Tell us about it in the comments.