Tortilla Española, also called the “Tortilla de Patata” is one of the staples of the Spanish diet. Its a potato omelette which is about 1.5 inches thick and round, in the shape of the pan in which it is made. Its one of the most common tapas found throughout Spain which is why I wanted to highlight it as the first Tapa of the Week! The tortilla is relatively easy to make and the ingredients are usually in your fridge or cupboard. Its rarely eaten for breakfast in Spain except by some tourists who confound the Spaniards by needing eggs right away in the morning. Its also enjoyed at the more informal and smaller evening meal and commonly finds its way into “bocadillos” or sandwiches for a picnic lunch. You can find the tortilla in homes, bars and restaurants all around Spain. And now you can make it yourself! The recipe is quite basic, its the technique and flipping that may take a bit of practice.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes (maybe more the first time)
Amounts may depend on your skillet. This is for a medium sized 10 inch frying pan. Non-stick works the best.
about 400ml or 2 cups of olive oil
4-5 medium to large potatoes
1 onion (optional)
1.5 teaspoon salt (or to desired taste)
1. Wash the potatoes, peel and slice them as for scalloped potatoes. (Optional: I like to cut them into 1 cm cubes because that is how I was taught by cook from Bilbao, Spain) Also finely dice the onion.
2. Pour the oil into a medium-sized skillet. Heat oil to medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes. Onions can be added now or when potatoes are half cooked depending on your preference. The oil should almost cover the potatoes and they should be lightly boiling in the oil, do not allow them to brown. Cooking time for the potatoes is about 15 minutes. Stir frequently.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs.
4. When the onion is tender, and the potatoes can be broken apart with a fork, scoop the potatoes and onions out of the oil with a slotted spoon or strainer and add the drained potatoes to the beaten eggs. Reserve the oil, it can be used in other dishes or for your next tortilla.
5. Add salt generously and mix. Drain most of the oil from the skillet into a bowl (to use again next time!), leaving enough oil to coat the skillet. (about 2-3 tablespoons)
6. Now have a plate ready that is the size of your skillet or a little bigger and not too heavy. You will use it to flip the tortilla later. Reheat the skillet to a medium to high heat, when it is hot, pour the egg, potato and onion mixture back into the skillet. With a spoon or spatula, smooth over the mixture in the skillet.
7. Now comes the tricky part. After a minute or so when a coat of cooked egg has formed on the bottom and is visible on the sides, put the plate upside down to cover the top of the skillet. Now, with one hand on the plate and one hand on the handle of the skillet, quickly flip the skillet up-side-down, allowing the tortilla mixture to fall onto the plate. (While you are learning, the first couple of times you may opt to do this over the sink in case some of the egg mixture slips out.) Slide the tortilla mixture from the plate back into the skillet this time cooking the other side.
You don’t want the tortilla to get brown, but you want it to hold together. It takes practice to learn when to flip the tortilla and I generally flip it about 4 or 5 times. If the tortilla breaks up and seems dry you may not have enough egg. The tortilla should be thick, about one inch, or 2 or 3 centimeters.
8. Each time you flip the tortilla and return it to the skillet, use the spoon or spatula to reshape it by smoothing over the top and running the spatula along the edges to create a rounded edge. When the tortilla is solid, get a clean serving plate, and slide the tortilla or flip it as you did before but onto a clean plate. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and cut into wedges or squares. Can be enjoyed warm or cold.
Congratulations, you now have a Tortilla Española!!
Other vegetables and meats can be added to the traditional tortilla for some extra flavor. Here are some examples created in Spain:
Tortilla de Camarones: Found often on the coast of Andalusia, substitute the potatoes for shrimp.
Tortilla Francesa: The tortilla with just onions and eggs.
A fun variation is to cut up ham and cheese and make the tortilla as normal except when you pour the mixture into the hot skillet just pour in half, add the ham and cheese then pour over the other half. Now continue to cook and flip the tortilla as usual.
Other additions, some you may want to substitute for the potato:
What are there other variations that you like to make? Or that you have tried in Spain?
¡Qué aproveche! = Enjoy!