Sunday, 15 December 2013

Tortilla de patatas

I guess tortilla is in Spain what Pizza is in Italy. It is a very inexpensive dish, easy to do, with the same ingredients (well, if you skip the debate over onion, which I will address in a minute) but it tastes differently in each home. For Spaniards, mum´s tortilla is more or less like Mamma´s pasta o pizza for Italians. Some other would prefer the corner´s bar tortilla on top of a slice of fresh bread around noon, also known as pincho de tortilla. But no matter what, we love it, we cook it, we enjoy it, and we share it whenever we have the opportunity.
No matter which one you prefer, this is really comfort food for us. And for me, it has all what it is needed to be a winner dish time and again: the simplest pantry ingredients, an easy to follow cooking technique and a bit of practice. That is all you will need to master this traditional but timeless dish.
You will only need some potato, eggs, and a generous amount of olive oil (do not worry, you can use it afterwards for other dishes and it will be perfect). I consider onions the other mandatory ingredient, as for me tortilla without them, is simply a good idea badly executed. It is the final addition to make this dish perfect, but for many people in Spain onion is a no-no in tortilla. My advice: try once each, and then stick to your favorite. No one will ever accuse you of not doing a proper one just because of the onions.
 And, no matter what, you should try this at home at least once. Results will be really satisfying every time, you can feed a crowd with minimum effort, and if there are leftovers, (I really doubt it), they  will be a perfect breakfast the following morning. Actually, I save a portion for breakfast, as for as much as I love tortilla fresh, I even enjoy it more the following morning, with a generous serve of fresh bread. And if you have never tried before, try to put your tortilla between two slices of sourdough  bread, and you will embrace a real Spanish meal on the go: bocadillo de tortilla. Although, to be true, we will never have it on the go. We rather stop for having it with a really chilled beer. And as simple as that, you will be absolutely happy for a while.

Tortilla de patatas


8 egss
1 kg potatoes
400 grams onion
500 ml olive oil

Peel off your potatoes and slice them as thin as you possibly can.
If there is only a good reason for having a proper working mandolin, it is for preparing potatoes for tortilla. I strongly recommend you to use one, but if you do not own one and are unsure about buying it, you can simply use a very sharp knife. (Some people cut potatoes into small cubes. If you are going to give me only a bit of credit, please, cut them into slices. Tortilla needs the potatoes that way to deserve be called tortilla).
Put them into a large bowl of cold water to prevent them to get brown while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Cut the onions in slices as thin as your potatoes.
In a large anti adherent frying pan, put the olive oil at medium- high and wait until hot but not smoking. Use a dry slice of potato to test temperature. When it is hot enough, put the dry potato and onion slices inside and turn down heat to low. The objective is for the potatoes and onions to cook slowly in the oil, not to get fried and burnt very quickly. Add salt, and move evenly so that they cook slowly, and do not get burn.  It should take 20 to 30 minutes for them to cook. Try them. By now, potatoes might be broken into pieces, and onion should be transparent and well cooked. Remove the pan from the stove, and separate the potatoes and onion form the oil and put them into a large bowl. Reserve the olive oil, as you can use it for frying other dishes. Simply, use it for cooking, not to toss any salad.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl, salt slightly and add them to the potato onion mix. Put the frying pan again on the stove and add two generous tablespoons of the reserved oil. Turn heat to high and add the mixture of potatoes, onions and eggs. With a wooden spoon, mix well while the eggs get settled, and after 3 or 4 minutes, just move the pan in circular movements, so that you allow the tortilla to settle and the eggs to cook and create a coat for the mixture. Keep it like that of another 4 or 5 minutes. Put a large dish on top of the pan and in a single movement, turn it downside up. The plate should be the exact size of the frying pan to allow you to turn it properly, so you can decide to use a smaller pan for this last step and fry two smaller tortillas instead.  Now you should have the cooked side of your tortilla facing you on the plate. Add another two table spoons of oil to the pan, and smoothly but securely slide the tortilla into the pan. The cooked part should now be on top, so that the uncooked will be done in this step. Allow it to settle for 4 to 5 minutes, moving the pan in circles, so that the tortilla does not get burnt, but evenly cooked and settle. Remove from the heat, put into a plate and enjoy it warm, or at room temperature, preferably with a generous serve of fresh bread.
Once you are familiar with the technique (it is not really rocket science, you will only need some practice), you can add other ingredients to this basic recipe. I enjoy particularly adding some green peppers and courgettes. Slice them as with the potatoes, and your tortilla will be packed with different flavors and more veggies.