When in Spain you obviously need to sample the traditional dishes and hope that there is enough time to taste the wide array of delicious things on offer. One of these is obviously the Spanish tortilla –¬†calling it an omelette is a tad deceiving as the ratio of egg:potato is low and it is thus less of the omelette we are familiar with and can be more closely compared to the Italian¬†frittata.¬†
The history of the Spanish tortilla is unclear, but you can read a couple of theories here. It is a simple and cheap dish to produce and yet there’s something thoroughly satisfying about it, whether you eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a finger food. It can be consumed¬†hot or cold and kept for 2-3 days in the fridge.
You will need:
1 medium onion
250-300g small (apparently ideally Desir√©e) potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 large eggs
salt and freshly¬†ground black pepper
Peel and slice the potatoes into thin rounds (obviously the thinner and more consistent¬†the potato slices are to each other, the easier and quicker it is to have them all cook at the same time). Separate and dry the slices with kitchen towel before placing in a skillet with half the hot olive oil. Turn frequently to avoid browning and sticking, but be careful not to break up the pieces. Decrease the heat if necessary, you don’t want to make chips (or do you?).
When they just start to get tender (about half way), add the finely sliced onion and continue cooking until both ingredients are tender enough to be eaten (they will be cooking a little bit further, but this is basically what you want to achieve at this point). Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a large¬†bowl, crack and whisk the eggs lightly. Add the potatoes and onions to this bowl and mix, trying not to break up the potato pieces. I’ve read that some Spanish let this mixture sit for 15 minutes before proceeding, but I haven’t experimented enough to know if this will actually make a difference.
Put the skillet back on the heat, adding the rest of the olive oil and give it a couple of minutes to heat up thoroughly before pouring your mixture in slowly. Reduce the heat immediately to a low setting and be patient. It’s going to take about 20 minutes to cook slowly, uncovered.¬†Every now and then draw the edge in gently with a palette knife, as this will give it a lovely rounded edge. When there is virtually no liquid egg left on the surface of the omelette, turn it over to cook the other side. To do this, place a flat lid or plate over the pan, carefully invert both so that the omelette is on the lid or plate. Put the pan back on the heat and use the palette knife to gently ease the omelette back in. Give it about 2 minutes more, then turn the heat off and leave it for a further 5 minutes to settle.
To prevent sticking, heat the skillet on high.¬†In a hot pan, the eggs coagulate immediately, before they have time to fill the tiny pores in the pan and stick to it. It doesn’t matter how much oil you add to the pan — if it isn’t hot enough when the eggs go in, the tortilla won’t come out in one piece.
Pick a large, flat plate for flipping – the relatively tricky part of tortilla-making comes around when the eggs have mostly set and the tortilla is ready to be flipped. This is what makes a tortilla different from an Italian frittata (where the pan goes in the oven to finish cooking the eggs). The Spanish have a special plate for tortilla flipping – what admirable dedication! ¬†Because you will need a plate to flip the tortilla without the mess, please note that your skillet musn’t be too heavy to lift with one hand – being a person with negligible upper body strength, this is something that I would keep in mind.¬†
As you can see in the picture above, it is sometimes served with bread, but I think that unless you’re having a small piece, this is a bit over the top in terms of carbohydrate content. As I always say.. to each his own!