Do you find that your taste in food changes over the years? I know a few people that used to detest fruitcake but now enjoy it. Growing up, one of the only tapas I refused to eat was the Tortilla . For some reason I had this notion that because it was just made from onions, potatoes and eggs, it was so boring and when you were faced with a spread of garlicky prawns, creamy croquetas of chicken, or stuffed mussels, it was easy to overlook the tortilla.
A few years ago I reconsidered the tortilla and am glad I did. With such simple (and might I add, limited!) ingredients – one of Spain’s most loved dishes is created. The tortilla is simply a potato omelet. However, the technique to making this is not that simple – the three tip to a successful tortilla are:
- slice the potatoes thinly, using a mandolin if you can
- don’t fry the potatoes, instead, cook them slowly in olive oil, the idea is not to get too much colour on them
- don’t be afraid to practice “flipping” the tortilla – this is what gives it its shape. When you first start, the smaller the skillet, the easier to flip. You might want to first half this recipe and use a smaller skillet for the first few times.
But with anything, once you know the technique, it is fun to make. This is the best “make ahead” dish I know. This is one of the dishes I served at the recent foodbloggers picnic. It is actually best served at room temperature but it is so versatile you can serve it hot or cold.
Recipe – serves 6 as a tapa (adapted from Penelope Casas The Foods and Wines of Spain)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 large waxy potatoes, slicely finely
- 1 onion, sliced finely
- 4 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat some of the olive in a 20 cm skillet. Add some of the potato slices so that you cover the skillet with a layer of the potatoes. Next, add some of the onions and season with salt. Alternate the potatoes and onions, adding olive oil as you go. So basically it is potatoes, then onions, the salt, then a drizzle of olive oil before you add on the next layers. Potatoes, onions, salt, olive oil etc. Cook this over medium heat, turning the mixture once in a while until the potatoes are tender but not browned. This took me around 15 minutes but cooking times can vary.
- When the potatoes are done, they should be tender enough to be pricked with a fork without any resistance, drain them in a colander, reserving the olive oil to use for cooking the rest of the omelet. If there is more oil than what you need, don’t throw it away – this can be used for cooking other things as well so save it for future use.
- Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the drained potato mixture and let sit for around 15 minutes.
- Clean the skillet and heat 2 tablespoons of the olive in the large skillet until very hot and add the potato mixture, rapidly spreading it out in the skillet. Lower the heat to medium and shake the pan often to prevent sticking. Use a thin spatula to run along the sides of the skillet so that some of the egg can run under and cook more evenly. This takes around 6 to 8 minutes.
- When the mixture begins to brown and just before you flip the tortilla, loosen it by sliding a thin spatula between the egg and the side of the skillet walls. Place a plate slightly larger than the skillet over the skillet. Remove the skillet from the heat and flip the omelet on to the plate so you can brown the other side.
- Add about 2 tablespoons more to the skillet, and then slide the flipped omelet back on to the skillet so that the cooked side is facing the top. Cook the omelet for another 5 minutes over medium heat.
- Flip the omelet 2 or 3 more times (this helps to give a good shape), cooking briefly on each side.
- Transfer to a plate, use some kitchen paper to drain the excess oil.
- Cut into wedges, place a toothpick on each wedge (and a chorizo adds a nice touch too).