After working as a chef at several Baltimore restaurants, Ben Lefenfeld decided it was time to go out on his own.
The co-owner and executive chef of La Cuchara in Hampden had worked at Tersiguel’s in Ellicott City, with Gerard Panguad in Washington, D.C., with Cindy Wolf at Charleston in Harbor East and at Petit Louis Bistro in Roland Park.
Now, Lefenfeld, his wife, Amy, and brother, Jake, have their own spot.
La Cuchara (or “The Spoon” in Spanish) focuses on Basque cuisine, which originates in the area of Spain called Basque Country. Dishes are often cooked over an open fire.
“Patatas bravas is something that you see all over Spain, and in the Basque region as well, executed many different ways,” Lefenfeld said.
La Cuchara makes the dish with potatoes and three purees that are “packed with flavor.”
Watch the video above to see how Lefenfeld makes the dish, and try it yourself at home with the full recipe below.
Makes 6 servings
- 2 lbs. New potatoes (boiled in salted water, cooled and quartered)
- 3 Tbsp. of duck fat
- 4 Tbsp. garlic puree (recipe below)
- 4 Tbsp. onion puree (recipe below)
- 5 Tbsp. mojo picon (recipe below)
- 3 cloves of garlic chopped
- 2 shallots chopped
- 1 bunch scallions sliced
Heat the duck fat in two large sauté pans. Add the potatoes and cook until they begin to crisp. Add the shallot and garlic, cook for 5 seconds, then add the rest of the ingredients except for the scallions. Keep cooking until the sauce thickens and begins to caramelize. Garnish with scallions.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 15 cloves of garlic
Simmer garlic and olive oil on low until it garlic is completely tender. Remove from heat, cool and puree in a food processor.
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 onions sliced
Sautee the onions in olive oil until thoroughly caramelized, adding a little water if needed to release the fond (browned bits) from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, cool and puree in a food processor.
- ½ onion diced
- 2 ribs of celery chopped
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 Tbsp. oregano
- 2 Guajillo Chiles toasted
- 2 Pasilla Chiles toasted
- 1 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. spicy smoked paprika
- 3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 cups of canned tomato
- 1 cup of water
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. Espellette
Combine all ingredients and puree in a food processor.