April 29, 2009

Tortilla Española

I was sitting in class a few weeks ago, and found out a classmate of mine was from Spain originally, and she told everyone about one of her favorite foods, the Tortilla Española. More importantly, she explained to us how to make one, and I'm so glad she did!

Now first off, this is a Spanish tortilla, not a Latin American tortilla, so it's not bread. It's technically an omelet. However, a Tortilla Española is not just a plain old omelet. Somehow, the method of cooking seems to raise it light years above the regular omelet in status and stature. I don't pretend to get it. Ingredient-wise, it's really not that different from the omelet you've been making for years. However, and this is the miracle part of it,  it just tastes so good! It IS different. It's delicious eaten hot, I think it's even better warm, and a wonderful snack at room temperature. Can you imagine an omelet as a picnic food- and it being great?! I know, it's weird. The only temperature it doesn't like is cold, as in out of the refrigerator cold. However, if you have a microwave with a warming function, you're back in the game.

Now, I've made this quite a few times since I learned how to, and now again for this post...I know, I know, I sacrifice for this blog. I've diced my potatoes small dice because my friend said to "chop them up" and that's what I thought of. However, if you do a little internet snooping, you will find that in Spain, what chopping means really, is to cut the potatoes in half, and slice them thinly. Since it tastes awesome to me both ways, I'm not sure if the potato shape makes much of a difference, so the preference is yours. However, some people seem to think that letting the already cooked potatoes rest in the beaten raw egg allows the potatoes to soak up some egg and makes for a better tortilla. So, with this school of thought, technically the larger surface area and thinner depth of the thinly sliced potato would facilitate this, which is perhaps why in Spain the slice thin variation seems to win out over the small dice. I will have to say that I've let the potatoes and eggs soak for a varied amount of time, and I really did like how it turnes out when it soaks for an hour or so, and as such, I've started slicing more and dicing less.

There is a tricky thing with this tortilla that seems to freak some people out. You have to flip it. Yep, as in with a plate and then put it back in the pan to cook the other side. Honestly, it was easy, so I don't know why it seems to cause so much consternation. I used a cast iron skillet too, not non-stick, and had no problems. If you put the eggs into a pre-heated skillet, you won't have a problem either. That's the real trick.

Maria's Tortilla Española

2 potatoes "chopped"
1 small onion
8 eggs
olive oil -with a bit of butter if you like, as per Maria
salt and pepper

Optional Sauce:
sour cream

After "chopping" your potatoes and onions, cook them in olive oil until soft, but keep the heat low, because we're not looking for browning here. You can be a bit generous with the oil if you want to retain some to cook the tortilla in. I seasoned the potatoes, but to do it or not is your call.

Beat the eggs. I used a little milk.
Remove the potatoes and onions and add them to the beaten eggs. I kept stirring as I did this, because I didn't want to really start cooking the eggs in the bowl. If you want to let them rest to absorb some egg, do it now.

Put the pan back on the fire to get it hot again, and then turn the heat to pretty low. Add olive oil if you don't have any in the skillet. Add the egg mixture. Let this cook slowly. I think that's a fairly key step. I used a temp-resistant spatula to make sure it was loose about the edges, and to lift corners now and again to allow liquid egg to run off the top, down under, and cook. 

When it's pretty well set, grab your plate and flip the tortilla out of the pan and onto the plate. 

Return the pan to the stove, and slide the tortilla back into the pan. I remember Maria saying to let it cook on the other side for "oh, 10 minutes or so", so that should give you an idea of just how slowly this thing should be cooking.
That's it.

You can see I lost a little bit that stuck in the pan, but oh well, it happens to the best of us, and when you flip it again, you won't see it. So there is a chance for redemption!

Then, cut into wedges and serve.

Maria said that in the Catalan region of Spain, a sauce of mayonnaise, sour cream and chives is popular to serve with this, and even though that's not where she is from, she loves it. I love it too. Here, I'm making a sauce with fresh cracked black pepper and sun-dried tomatoes. Another delicious variation I stumbled upon was to use chopped up marinated artichoke hearts. Sigh...divinity. 

When I made the tortilla, I played with it, as I always do, can't help it, so I added some fresh red pepper to my potatoes and onions, which was awesome. The second time, I used some chopped tomato. I've since used bacon, mushrooms, ham. They're all great.

Sorry this is a bad photo, but you get the idea.

Tortilla Española is now my favorite semi-quick and easy food fix. And talk about economical! It's cheap, beyond simple, but just so marvelous and versitile! It fits the bill for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. What's not to love?



JESSICA said...

You left a comment a while back on a recipe website about a Cuban flan that was watery even though you cooked it like the instructions said...The recipe called for a cook time of 45 minutes. I found that you have to cook it for 1 hour 10 min., and then let it sit in the oven - turned off - for another 10-15 minutes. Then you refrigerate for 4-6hours before serving. I am commenting on this blog post because the Tortilla Española is also one of my absolute faves!! I make different variations as well, and my entire family loves it no matter which meal I choose to cook it for.
Anyway, I hope you make the Cuban flan again because it really is DELISH!!
...and I'm Cuban and want to make sure that everyone gets to sample yummy Cuban desserts. :)

Mina:) said...

Hi Jessica!
Thanks for posting! I love Tortilla Española so much as well- though from trial and error I NOW like to slice my potatoes- just fan slices instead of dice. lol
Acutually, as to the flan- the style flan I make IS cuban-style!It comes out perfect every time- I don't recall ever posting that a flan I made came out watery. But anyway, the recipe I have is from Cuba -friend's mother's recipe- I've even cooked it in a flanera in a pressure cooker and it comes out perfect. I posted it years ago- like 2006!(time flies) on Recipezaar and this is the link if you want to see the awesome recipe I use: Delicious, Easy Cuban-Style Flan
Jessica-I'd love to hear back from you if this is different from the recipe you use. I always want to learn a new flan!