Potato Bombas are breaded and fried mashed potato balls with meat filling. An invention hailing from the Barceloneta beach-side neighborhood of Barcelona, these are must-have tapas when visiting this jewel of the Mediterranean. If a trip to Barcelona is not on the horizon right now, make them yourself with this recipe!
½tomatoflesh grated on a box grater, skin discarded
1teaspoonsweet (regular) paprika
Chili flakes or cayenne pepperto taste
2 ½pounds(1.13 kg) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
¼cupextra-virgin olive oil
2tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil
1 ½tablespoonsall-purpose flour
1teaspoonsweet (regular) paprika
½ cup plus 2 tablespoonschicken broth
Pinchcayenne pepperor more to taste
Vegetable oilfor frying
All purpose flouras needed
2 to 3large eggsbeaten
Dried breadcrumbsas needed
To make the allioli: In a small saucepan combine the garlic cloves and olive oil and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the garlic is tender and honey gold (occasionally tilt the pan as needed to keep the garlic submerged–even off the heat the olive oil should be hot enough to keep cooking it). Watch the garlic carefully so that it does not overcook. Lift the garlic cloves from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to cool. Reserve the garlic oil for another use (1 tablespoon will be used later for the allioli).
In a small food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the garlic cloves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil. Taste, season with salt, and pulse to mix. Scrape the allioli into a lidded storage container and chill for up to 3 days. You should have about 1 cup allioli.
To make the filling: In a large non-stick skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and cook until softened. Then add the ground beef and pork, and cook, breaking the meat up into small pieces with the edge of a wooden spoon, until no longer pink and most of its natural liquid has evaporated. Add the grated tomato, paprika, garlic, salt, and cayenne and continue cooking until the remaining liquid has absorbed/evaporated. Set aside to cool completely.
To make the potatoes: Add the cubed potatoes to a pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Salt generously and bring to a boil over high heat, being careful it doesn’t boil over (lower the heat as needed). Boil the potatoes until they are easily pierced with a fork, drain and then return to the pot off the heat. Add the olive oil and mash the potatoes with a potato masher until smooth. Adjust seasoning if needed. Let the potatoes cool slightly and then mash in the egg (you don’t want the potatoes super hot or else the egg will cook). Set aside to cool to room temperature.
To assemble the bombas: Scoop ¼ cup of the potato mixture at a time into the palm of your hand. You can slightly wet your hands as needed if the potato starts to stick to your hands during this process. Carefully pat the scooped potato into a disc about ½-inch thick in the palm of your hand. Add 1 tablespoon of the cooled meat filling into the center, then carefully cup your hand to start bringing the edges of the potato together and use your other hand to pinch it closed. Smooth into a round ball and set aside as you continue shaping the remaining bombas. The bombas can be refrigerated at this point until you are ready to bread and fry them.
To make the bravas sauce: Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and paprikas and whisk for a couple minutes to ensure the flour starts to cook. Slowly add the chicken broth while continuing to whisk into a smooth sauce. It will thicken more once the mixture comes up to a boil. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. This sauce can be served hot, warm, or room temperature.
To finish the bombas: To each of 3 wide bowls add flour, beaten eggs, and dried breadcrumbs to set up a dredging station. Dredge each bomba one at a time in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs, and set aside on a clean tray or work surface until remaining bombas are breaded. You can also bread them in batches as you fry them, but this can get messy.
Heat the vegetable oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 350°F. You’ll want the oil to be deep enough so the bombas will be fully submerged once you add them to the oil. Fry the breaded bombas in batches for about 2 minutes each or until they are golden brown. If you fry them much longer the balls may start to crack open. Set finished bombas aside on a paper towel-lined tray or sheet pan to drain. Serve bombas immediately with the allioli and bravas sauce.
Make these potato bombas gluten-free by using gluten-free flour in the bravas sauce, and using gluten-free flour and gluten-free breadcrumbs for the breading.
Using a measuring cup and spoon will save the day and yield more accurate and evenly sized potato bombas. Small discrepancies in measurements, or depending on how much you peel your potatoes may fluctuate the number of bombas you yield.
I highly recommend using a deep fryer to cook these if you can. It keeps the oil temperature steady, and doesn't make a huge mess on the stove top.
This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.