Patatas a la Riojana

patatas a la riojana

Patatas a la Riojana is a simple yet incredibly delicious dish from La Rioja and Álava in Spain. Álava (part of Pais Vasco) and La Rioja are neighbours and at one time both were inhabited by a pre Roman tribe called the Vascones who are today’s Basques. Historically though, this dish is relativley modern, since most of it’s ingredients were unknown in Europe until after the discovery of the Americas in 1492.

There is a wonderful story regarding Patatas a la Riojana and the legendary French Chef Paul Bocuse. It is said that the Cune winery hired Bocuse in 1979 to prepare a celebratory dinner to comemorate their 100th aniversary. Apparently Bocuse tasted a dish of Patatas a la Riojana beforehand, prepared by the winery’s cook (Pilar Grandival) and declared,”A recipe like this must represent Spain in the whole world because it’s the most delicious thing I’ve tasted in my life! You are fools because this is much better than what I am going to give you later!”

Patatas a la Riojana (serves 2 or 3 people):

a hot chorizo ring – sarta (sliced)
1 large onion (finely chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 choricero peppers
1 pimiento rojo (capsicum sweet red pepper)
1 kg flowery potatoes (chasqueado/snapped)
a splash of sherry vinegar (to taste)
1 pint water (ideally that used for soaking the choriceros)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Pimentón de la Vera dulce
a teaspoon parsley (finely chopped – to serve)
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

soaking choriceros

Soak the choricero peppers in boiling water for an hour. When rehydrated, remove the seeds and scrape out the inner flesh with a teaspoon. Save the water to use later. Jars of choricero pepper paste are available online if you can’t find dry ones. Don’t worry if you can’t get choriceros, there are many Patatas a la Riojana recipes which don’t include them. Pimientos Choricero are from Gernika in Pais Vasco and can be difficult to find even in some other regions of Spain.


Burn the red pepper all over (on a gas hob, under the grill or on a barbecue) and allow it to steam in a paper bag or container.

pimiento rojo

When cool peel off the burnt skin, remove the stalk and seeds, then chop.


Peel the chorizo and slice into 2cm pieces. Brown it in hot olive oil, then reserve.


Gently poach the onion in the chorizo infused oil.


When soft and sticky, stir in the garlic, followed by the choricero flesh

pimiento rojo

and chopped pimiento rojo.


Sprinkle on the pimentón de la Vera.


Allow to cook for a few minutes, then add the potatoes. Cut these roughly, insert a small knife and snap (chasquear) pieces of potato off. This allows more starch to escape and thicken the sauce. If you can’t get flowery potatoes, I suggest par boiling waxy ones before adding them. It’s not unheard of, for people to mash up a few of the potatoes (towards the end) to aid in the thickening process.

el regreso del chorizo

The chorizo goes back in now, along with the bay leaves.


Pour on the choricero pepper soaking water (regular H2O will suffice) and a splash of sherry vinegar.


Bring to a simmer, season with sea salt and cracked black pepper and allow to cook for 30 minutes or so, until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened.

patatas a la riojana

Add more water if it gets too thick before the potatoes are soft, check the seasoning before serving and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley. This should be served with a glass of Rioja (por supuesto) – Cune Reserva is the obvious choice!

About Mad Dog
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4 Responses to Patatas a la Riojana

  1. Sounds delicious! Alas, as far as I know, we don’t have choricero chilis in these parts. Would you know if there’s any similar Mexican chili I could substitute?

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Frank – they all came from Mexico/South America originally, but the Spanish wil have been perfectng them over a few centuries. Apparently, the Italian peperone crusco is similar. You can get choricero pulp in jars, sold as Carne De Pimiento Choricero. When I don’t have them I leave them out and the Patatas a la Riojana still taste pretty good!

  2. TammyRenea says:

    One of my most favorite meals! I wouldn’t dream of eating it without a wine from La Rioja. Wonderful recipe. I can’t find choricero here so I just add extra pimentón.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Tammy – I’ve just been out and bought 6 dried ones today and a jar of the carne de pimiento choricero (the paste) in case I forget to soak them the next time. They must grow something similar in New Mexico – maybe you can get a Ristra of them…

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