I was introduced to Tortilla Española via my friend Jose on a drizzly, yet warm early spring day in Clermont-Ferrand. He had invited a mutual friend and I to his tiny one room flat for tapas. I can’t remember exactly where in Spain he was from, but I’m pretty sure it was in the southern part.
When we arrived, he had already prepared a marinated tomato and onion salad with olives and tuna. While we helped ourselves to the salad and some Kronenbourg 1664, Jose fried slices of potato and onion in a pan of bubbling olive oil. After straining them out, he stirred in beaten eggs, and sprinkled in a bit of dried yeast. All that, was then cooked into one big omelette-like, potato cake. I’m not sure what role the yeast could have possibly played. He didn’t think it did anything, but his grandmother had always added yeast, so he kept doing it. I’ve since omitted it, and since my grandmother never made this, I can do that.
Anyhow, it was awesome. When I got back to the states a couple of months later, it was one of the first things I made, along with the salad. In total, I probably ended up making the salad more often, but I hadn’t made either dish for at least a couple of years. Until last weekend, that is. I have rediscovered the Spanish Tortilla and it is still awesome.
1 Cup Olive Oil
1.5 lbs Red or Gold Potatoes, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 Onion, sliced thin
1 Tbsp Garlic, Sliced
Salt and Black Pepper
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium. After about 3 minutes, test the oil with a slice of potato, if it bubbles right away, then its ready to go. If not wait until the bubbles start to happen.
Add the potato, onion and garlic slices to the hot oil. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir the mixture around in the pan as it cooks and adjust the heat to maintain moderate bubble action. We’re not aiming for browning at this point, just a little tenderness. About 15 minutes, give or take. Remove the potatoes-onions-garlic from the oil with a slotted spoon and allow to drain and cool slightly in a colander, or simply lay them out on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Strain out the excess oil and set it aside. Hang onto the skillet, you’re going to use it again in a minute.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the potato mixture and stir/fold gently to combine.
Put the skillet back on the burner over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp of that reserved oil to the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the eggy potatoes spreading them around in the pan to form an even-ish layer. A minute or two later, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes. Just leave it be for 5 minutes.
Okay, run a knife or something along the edge of the pan to loosen up the tortilla.
It gets a bit tricky here. Slide the potato cake out onto a plate. The top of the tortilla is going to still be runny and its okay. Place another plate on top of it and invert. Add another Tbsp of oil to the pan. Save the rest of the reserved oil for another use. Now, nudge the tortilla back into the pan. Cook for 5 minutes.
Slide it out onto a serving plate and let it cool a bit. Serve warm or at room temperature. This doesn’t really refrigerate well.
Jose served his tortilla with a garlic aïoli and I totally recommend this. Click here for a recipe. Dust with a little paprika and enjoy.