Three humble ingredients and yet, once combined and cooked, they transform themselves into the most delicious and most popular Spanish dish – Tortilla de patata.
Any time of day can be “pincho de tortilla” time, breakfast, midmorning, lunch, afternoon or dinner. It is ideal when entertaining as it can be made in advance. Take one to a party or a picnic and watch it disappear! According to Keith Floyd ‘not a dish to play or joke with’.
Now for the recipe.
- A deep 10 inch (20 cm) frying pan, or bigger, to fry the potatoes.
- A good non-stick 10 inch (20 cm) frying pan, or smaller, to make the actual omelette. Remember that the lighter the pan the easier it will be to turn over.
- A big bowl, a colander and a plate.
- A large 12 inch dinner plate (or a lid!) a little bit bigger than the frying pan to turn the omelette.
Ingredients: 6 or 7 eggs, 4 or 5 big floury potatoes (800 gr) such as Maris Piper or King Edward, 1 onion cut into thin small slices (optional), 350-400 ml of olive or vegetable oil, a bit of olive oil to make the omelette, salt
Heat the oil in the deep frying pan to about 70° C. You need enough oil to just cover the potatoes and the onion.
Peel and slice the potatoes into medium to thin uneven rounds (you don’t want them too small). Season them generously. Thinly slice the onion and add to the potatoes. Now add them both to the hot oil.
The potatoes have to cook in the oil at a low/medium temperature so that they are soft rather than brown, as if you were boiling them in the oil. Stir them from time to time; you can cover the pan with a lid for a little while but leave a gap for the steam to come out . As the potatoes and the onions soften, you can break them up a little bit. When they are cooked (golden brown but still soft), take them out of the oil using a fish slice or a spoon and put them in a colander with a plate underneath. Leave them to drain off the oil. All this can be done up to a day before.
When you are ready to make the omelette, beat the eggs in a big bowl and add a little bit of salt. Add the potatoes to the eggs and mix them. If you think that you have not got enough eggs to bind the potato, add more. It is now important to leave the mixture in the bowl, at room temperature, for about 10 minutes. You can use this time to empty the oil out of the frying pan into a smaller container. It can be used again so don’t throw it away.
To make the omelette, heat the non stick frying pan over a medium heat, add a little bit of oil and spread it around the pan. When the oil is hot, tip in the potato mixture and gently shake the pan so that it covers the whole pan but does not stick. Use a spatula to go around the omelette. After 2 minutes or so, when the bottom of the omelette has set, put the large plate on top of the pan. Hold onto the pan handle with your right hand (if you are right-handed) and put your left hand firmly on top of the plate. At this point, I move away from the hob, closer to the worktop, in case I spill it or drop it! Make sure you grip the plate and pan firmly and then, carefully but confidently turn the pan over so that you end up with the omelette on the plate, cooked side up. Return the pan to the heat and put a little bit more olive oil before sliding the omelette off the plate so that the uncooked side is in contact with the heat. Cook the omelette for two minutes or so; prick it with a fork and press down a little so that the egg cooks in the middle. Turn the omelette again a few more times cooking if for 2 minutes at a time on each side, until it is set. You do not need any more oil and I normally wash the plate and dry it between each turn so that it is not slippery. The omelette must be cooked but not too runny or too dry.
I tend to serve it with some bread and a green salad. Less is more when it comes to tortilla. If you have any leftovers, it keeps for 24 hours in a cool place in the kitchen, not in the fridge!
When it comes to making this dish, remember that practice makes perfect and that a smaller omelette will be easier to turn, so it’s best not to start too big. Cooking does not get more Spanish than this!
Photographs copyright Marta Pipiora: martapipioraphotography.blogspot.com