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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tortilla Española

As an au pair in Spain 10 years ago, I was lucky enough to learn how to make a few Spanish dishes. I loved a good fresh tortilla española, and quickly learned how to make it myself. Now, most of us know a tortilla as the thing we wrap up our taco fillings with, but in Spain, a tortilla is just an omelette. And a tortilla española is potatoes and onions wrapped in omelette love.

You can get a tortilla at any bar as a tapa (a little bite to eat with your drink) or in a sandwich. In fact, you can get a tortilla in just about anyplace that sells food...I would venture to say that the tortilla española rivals the paella as the Spanish national food.

In addition to being very tasty, it has the advantage of being one of the cheapest things that I make at home. It takes very basic ingredients--eggs, potatoes and onions--and since I always have these on hand, this is my go-to dish when I've run out of time to go to the grocery store. You can always add other ingredients to play with the flavors, but I like it just the way it's served up in every home in Spain with a simple salad on the side.

Tortilla Española
(Ingredients can be adjusted to fit size of pan.)

Olive oil
2-3 large potatoes, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4-6 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium-sized skillet (8-9" or as large as you can go while being able to cover the top), heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan over medium heat. Layer the potatoes and onion in the oil, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper as you go. Cook the potatoes and onions until soft, but not browned, about 10-15 minutes.

Once the potato mixture is softened, drain a little of the oil out (leaving about a tablespoon in the pan) and pour in the eggs (enough to cover the potatoes). Let the eggs cook to set. Once the bottom is lightly browned and the middle starts setting, place your plate over the top of the skillet. Carefully flip the tortilla onto the plate and then slide it back into the pan, uncooked side down. Cook a little longer until the bottom is also lightly browned.

Slide the tortilla onto a clean plate and let cool. Tortillas are traditionally served at room temperature, so this can be made ahead (but no longer than a couple of hours as the potatoes will start to turn brown). Slice into triangles and serve with salad or if serving as an appetizer, cut into small, bite-sized squares.
(This version is a little misshapen because 1) the plate dips in the middle and 2) I don't have any plates bigger than my skillets here in France. They tend to come out a little prettier when I have the right-sized equipment!)


Lori February 19, 2009 at 11:37 PM  

Wow, I had no idea about the tortilla differences. This looks great! Very cool about your au pair experiences. A few of the girls I have met where we live in the Brazil did this in the US. I had actually never heard of it until meeting them.

Mindy February 20, 2009 at 7:43 AM  

Sue--Thanks! You should see it when it actually turns out like it should! ;-)

Lori--The Spanish tortilla seems to be the best-kept secret! It really is a version, I think, of a fritatta, but without having to bake it.

Pam February 20, 2009 at 6:24 PM  

I love this recipe. Simple and delicious.

Laura in Paris February 21, 2009 at 2:59 AM  

Oh, Mindy, I'd love to publish your recipe and story in my website! Please have a look at it and let me know what you think (www.aworldinapan.com)

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