The first time I went to Spain, I noticed these potato omelettes everywhere–on every menu, in every cafe and bar, stuffed inside of bread flutes and sold as sandwiches and sometimes cut into wedges and served to us free with a drink. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that what I thought would be a cold, dry, brick of potato and egg turned out to be soft, moist and delicious. The humble tortilla is not your run-of-the-mill omelette. For one thing it is delicious cold. For another it is delicious warm, hot, on its own, stuffed in bread, or served with homemade romesco and a green salad. It doesn’t feel like a heavy meal either–unless you eat the whole thing yourself.
I recently had the good fortune to visit my sister-in-law who lives just outside of Madrid. She was a wonderful hostess and tour guide and joy of joys, we stopped several times to sit in the shade with a cerveza or tinto de verano and pan and tortilla. It’s been so long since I’ve had really good tortilla that I had forgotten that Tortilla Espanola should be so soft and moist that you can barely tell the potato from the egg. Time to update this recipe!
Oh and, as a bonus, if you can find a last warm sunny day (such as today) before Autumn sets in, tinto de verano on your deck or patio will make it even more special.
will make about 6 mid-size wedges
3 large potatoes or 4-5 small potatoes, peeled
1 onion, sliced thinly
5-6 eggs, beaten and seasoned
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
about 2 cups Spanish olive oil
9-inch frying pan with curving edges
plates for flipping
1. Cut the potatoes into small pieces, almost like flakes, by holding each potato in one hand and using a pairing knife to cut off little pieces. They do not have to be uniform, just thinnish bits of potato, roughly the same size.
2. Do the same with an onion–small, thin pieces.
3. Mix the potato and onion in a large bowl with salt.
4. Heat up a generous amount of olive oil in the frying pan—enough oil to almost cover the potatoes. This might make some people uncomfortable, but the magic to this dish is that the potatoes and onions are simmered in the olive oil and become super moist and flavorful. Simmer on a low or medium-low heat until tender and easily breakable with a wooden spoon. Stir the mixture to cook evenly.
5. When the potatoes are soft and tender, pour into a strainer over a bowl to catch the excess oil.
4. Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat. Add a little salt. Then add the cooked potato onion mixture.
6. Heat up a little oil in the frying pan on medium heat and then add in the egg/potato/onion mixture. Hold the handle of the frying pan and shake it so that the egg doesn’t stick to the bottom. Use a spatula to run around the sides and make sure nothing sticks.
7. Let the omelette cook until the bottom is browned.
8. Take a large plate and fit it over the omelette in the frying pan. In one swift motion, flip the frying pan over so that the omelette falls smoothly onto the plate.
9. Add a little bit more oil to the frying pan.
10. Hold the plate with the omelette over the frying pan and scoot the tortilla carefully off the plate so that it gently eases into the frying pan (runny egg side down, cooked side up). Cook on medium for another few minutes–about 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Loosen the sides with a spatula to make sure it doesn’t stick.
11. Turn off the heat and cover the omelette with a lid for a couple minutes to gently steam cook. Then hold a plate over the frying pan and flip again to serve the finished tortilla.
This may take some practice and experience to judge when the tortilla is ready. Some people may prefer the egg more undercooked than others. You can’t really go wrong with potatoes, eggs and salt though!
Tinto de verano
For this lovely summery low alcohol cocktail:
1/4 to 1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup lemon soda such as Fanta or Trader Joes Lemon soda
squeeze of lemon, plus lemon slice
plenty of ice
1. Mix all together. I prefer mine on the light side—too much red wine isn’t as nice to me.
It seems so simple, but is quite delicious.