Monday, March 12, 2012

Tortilla de patata

For a Rioja tasting night that we were hosting, I decided to make some Spanish dishes for everyone to nibble on. Tortilla de patata is one of my favorite dishes and it is so simple to make - the ingredient list is short and it only takes a little bit of patience. Most recipes call for an astonishing amount of olive oil. While I am sure that adds a lot of grassy olive oil flavor, I cannot bring myself to cook my potatoes and onions in cupfuls of oil, so my version with a very reduced amount of oil is below. I still love it, and any leftover slices are fantastic for packed lunches or snacking on.

Tortilla de patata

Adapted from


7 medium potatoes, peeled

1 whole yellow onion
6 large eggs
olive oil
Salt to taste


Cut the peeled potatoes in half lengthwise. Then, with the flat side on the cutting surface, slice the potato in pieces approximately 1/8" thick. If you slice them a bit thick, don’t worry – it will simply take a bit longer for them to cook.

Peel and chop the onion into 1/4" pieces. Put potatoes and onions into a bowl and mix them together. Salt the mixture.

In a large, heavy, non-stick frying pan, heat about 3 tbsp of olive oil on medium high heat. Carefully place the potato and onion mixture into the frying pan, spreading them evenly over the surface. You may need to turn down the heat slightly, so the potatoes do not burn. Cook with a lid on the pan, checking every so often to stir the potatoes.

Leave in pan until the potatoes are cooked. If you can poke a piece of potato with a spatula and it easily breaks in two, your potatoes are done. Leave in the pan to cool.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat by hand with a whisk or fork. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Pour in the potato onion mixture. Mix together with a large spoon.

Pour 2 Tbsp of olive oil into a large, non-stick frying pan and heat on medium heat. Be careful not to get the pan too hot because the oil will burn - or the tortilla will! When hot, stir the potato onion mixture once more and “pour” into the pan and spread out evenly. Allow the egg to cook around the edges. Then you can carefully lift up one side of the omelet to check if the egg has slightly “browned.” The inside of the mixture should not be completely cooked and the egg will still be runny.

When the mixture has browned on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side. Take the frying pan to a sink. Place a large dinner plate upside down over the frying pan. With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and the omelet will “fall” onto the plate. Place the frying pan back on the range and put just enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Let the pan warm for 30 seconds or so. Now slide the omelet into the frying pan. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet. Let the omelet cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2 minutes.

Slide the omelet onto a plate to serve.

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