Canarian Wrinkled Popes (Papas Arrugadas – wrinkled potatoes)

Yes, just back from Gran Canaria, I have to find something that is likely to upset some people.  Sorry peeps, it’s just too good to keep to myself.  Anyway, they’re rather nice!

Papas Arrugadas are (traditionally) small potatoes boiled in seawater.  However, if you do not wish to have a day trip to Clacton, Rhyl, Blackpool or other similar resorts (other resorts are available in every coastal county of the UK), you can just use normal drinking water and lots of sea salt – the big crystals are best.   Use lots of it.  No, LOTS of it.  No…. MORE than that…..

That’s better!

(NOTE:  The chemical granulated table salt isn’t really nice enough for this.)

The spuds should be small to smallish; certainly not even medium sized and definitely not larger.  Just scrub ’em and boil ’em.  Don’t peel ’em.  You’ll need quite a few for each person cos they’re rather nice.   Just use the baby/miniature/Charlotte/Elaganza little spuds that you get in the supermarkets or on your local market stall.    Don’t use the very red skinned spuds; the skins may be a bit thick for this.

Ok, so you just boil ’em for about 20 mins and then drain almost all of the water away (for once, you’ll not be able to use this source of boiling water for soup base or even the washing up because of the salt content) and leave the almost dry hot pan, on the hob but off the heat, to simply evaporate away the remaining moisture.  You want to maintain the subtle but tasty salt coating on the spuds.  Let ’em dry off.  Don’t butter ’em or anything.  Leave ’em just as they are.

Pop your wrinkled popes (called papas….. popes in Spanish….. and before you start to call ’em patates as they do on the peninsular, there, in/on the Canaries they call ’em papes) into a dry dish and eat ’em either as an accompaniment to something Spanish (the Canarian beef stew, as written in the next recipe, is an ideal example) or as a starter with a spicy sauce.


(Oh bugger; that’s French… What’s Spanish for ‘Oh Bugger’?…Oh bugger, I mean ‘Voila’?)

Estofado (Canarian beef stew)

I have found no definitive version for Estofado thus far and so this is my version that borrows a number of goodies from lots of other variations…….

Ingredients for 4 very hungry people

  • 1 kilo shin of beef or skirt or other cheap cuts, cut into large chunks (or use pork instead….)
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 125g streaky bacon in cubes/squares/cut up small
  • 125g chorizo, cut into thin slices
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained & rinsed)
  • ½ litre beef stock (2 stock cubes)
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced into ½” slices
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 2 small peeled sweet potatoes in large chunks
  • 2 medium onions; one finely chopped and the other just peeled and quartered
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into robust, large rondels (big chunks)
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • Olive (or rapeseed/veg) oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Pour a couple of good-sized slugs of cheaper olive oil (or veg/rapeseed oil might be better I suppose, as the smoke temperature is higher….) into a large saucepan, casserole dish, frying pan or Spanish cazuela and pop onto a med/high heat
  • Add the beef, and seal it until browned (for larger quantities, you may need to do this in batches or it may start to exude its juices too much and start to stew early…… and that’s about as bad as having a ‘soggy bottom’ in other cooking….sorry, Mary & Paul)
  • Chuck in the flour, cumin and paprika and give it a good stir
  • Pour in the wine and stir again
  • Throw in all the veggies and stir well
  • Add the beef stock and bring to the boil. Top up to just cover with water/wine/stock
  • Reduce the heat down to its very lowest possible on the hob, cover it and leave it for a couple of hours, alternatively pop it into slow cooker for all day whilst you’re at work, or even in a very low oven, say 95C
  • When the meat is tender, serve… it’s really lovely with oodles of freshly cut bread in chunks.
  • How about serving it with Canarian ‘Wrinkly Popes’? (See this interesting recipe nearby……)
  • It freezes really well too, so if you’re like me and often over-cater, the remainder can be frozen for other meals……in fact it tastes even better the second time around; just after thawing, just very gently heat it through again (don’t stir it very much at all or it’ll fall to bits as the meat’s so tender) until you’re ready to serve.