Tortilla Española

Spanish omelet, Spanish tortilla, whatever.  This is a staple in Spain.  It requires few ingredients, keeps for days, and can be eaten hot or cold, by itself or in a sandwich (on a crusty baguette).  It is versatile and delicious.

The first time I ever attempted to make one of my own, I had been in Madrid for a couple months, and Melissa and I made a huge mess of my kitchen.  What resulted resembled a giant messy latke, and there was egg and olive oil everywhere.

Months later, my Spanish roommate taught me how to make one properly, and I have been slowly perfecting my technique ever since.  This was my best attempt to date, probably because I now own a cast iron skillet.

Tortilla Espanola

Ingredients, for a smallish tortilla (these are estimates, I don’t have a set-in-stone ratio that I use):

  • 2 large potatoes, or an equivalent number of small potatoes
  • 1 large onion yellow onion, or an equivalent amount of some other kind
  • salt (lots of it)
  • olive oil (lots of it)
  • 5 or so eggs, lightly beaten

Step 1: Slice potatoes and onions.  The potatoes should be quartered and then sliced at a bit of an angle.  The onions should be coarsely chopped.  I used fingerling potatoes and spring onions, because I had them around, and they worked fine.

Step 2: Pour a large amount of olive oil into the skillet.  The skillet should be about half-full of oil. While it is heating, toss the potatoes and onions with a generous amount of salt.  When oil is hot, add potatoes and onions, and cook on medium-low heat until potatoes are somewhat soft, but not falling apart.  I usually cover the pan with a lid.

Step 3: When potatoes are soft, lift the potatoes and onions out of the oil with a slotted spoon, into a medium sized bowl, leaving the olive oil in the pan.  Pour most of the olive oil out of the pan, and save for later use if you’re into that, or discard.

Step 4: Add the eggs to the potatoes and onions, and mix to combine.  Pour the mixture back into the skillet.  There should be a good amount of olive oil still coating the bottom and sides of the skillet.

Step 5:  Cook the tortilla on low heat with a lid.  I like to poke around the sides of the tortilla with a rubber spatula occasionally to make sure it is not sticking to the pan.  It is important to cook on very low heat, so that the majority of the tortilla will cook without the bottom browning too much.  I think this took about 15 minutes for mine.

Step 6:  When the majority of the tortilla appears to be done, and the bottom is slightly browned, it is time to flip the tortilla.  I do this by placing a plate on top of the skillet, and flipping the tortilla onto the plate.  I then slide the tortilla back into the skillet, uncooked-side down.  It should take about another 5 minutes before the tortilla is fully cooked.

Step 7: Flip the tortilla onto another plate, and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.

When my roommate taught me how to make tortilla, she added a tiny flurry of cinnamon to the top.  This is not traditional, and as she did it, she said “My mother would kill me if she saw me do this.”  However, I have always done the same, partly for nostalgic reasons, and partly because it’s tasty.

This is especially good with a baguette and some salad.

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2 responses to “Tortilla Española

  1. Wonderful! And I will give you a report direct from the tortilla front in Spain.

  2. Beautiful tortilla! I’m so hungry now…

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