What fetching and altogether heartwarming memories are brought forth when thinking about culinarily forays! In this particular instance, journeys across Europe and recollections of crossing Spain from North to South (French-Spanish border). Stopping along the serpentine road-trip at various rustic, but delectable roadside cafes where, even when you only partake of a coffee or a glass of Regional, solid wine, you are presented with a charming, accompanying side dish. A churro or buñuelo for a fortifying coffee in the later afternoon hours, and given the colossal selection of Tapas depending on the province, small food plates which are the stereotypical supplements for wine or beer.
In Galicia, you’d order the Empanada Gallega or Pulpo a la Cazuela (Sautéed Squid); in Logroño, the capital of Rioja, Pinchos de Chorizo and Champiñones al Ajillo (Mushrooms in Garlic Sauce). If you are visiting Madrid, you would be served either the ubiquitous Cocido Madrileño, a bean-like-stew with a delectable assortment of meats cooked in a rich paprika broth, or the ever comforting and acclaimed Tortilla de Patatas, which in Madrid is named Tortilla Madrileña, as locals believe they were the ones that introduced it to the rest of the country. Hence it’s referred currently as Tortilla Española.
There’s never, obviously, a superior recipe for Tortilla. You will hear every proprietor, smugly boasting their establishment makes the very best in all of Spain, and that is probably true because it is served universally throughout the nation. It is part of every Tapas menu – and everyone is besotted with it and never tires of eating it.
Well of course, to each its own naturally. But ultimately, like with everything else, the most important thing is to use the highest quality of produce available. Best potatoes, freshest eggs, fragrant young onions.
The ” basic ” Tortilla de Patata recipe is actually rather simple with its ingredients. It differs from any other in that it is tremendously thick (almost a robust 3” high) and it is usually served at room temperature, cut into bitesize squares.
The trick to a good tortilla is to ensure your finished product isn’t as dry as a piece of toast. This recipe preparation will warrant each morsel is moist and delicious.
The Spaniards slice the potatoes and onions very thin (a mandolin is superb for this) and the almost poaching that occurs when cooking them in the olive oil, makes for a very creamy tortilla. The other important factor is to allow the cooked onions and potatoes to sit in the egg mixture for about 15-20 minutes before making the tortilla, which can be prepared in advance. Additionally, wait till the omelet has come to room temperature for better slicing before serving.
This recipe feeds 9-10 people easily as Tapas or 6 for a light brunch together with a light, green salad.
1 ½ cups of Olive oil
2 large sweet onions – thinly sliced
4 large potatoes – peeled and thinly sliced
6-7 large eggs
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
Heat the oil in a deep, non-stick large skillet and add potato slices, then onion slices – one layer at a time, seasoning lightly as you go along. Simmer over medium heat (the potatoes and onions will boil in the oil rather than fry). Lift and turn the potatoes and onions, every once in a while, to prevent them from caking, which is important and cook them until tender but not brown. This is a laborious process as you have to be there while they are cooking to turn them.
Drain the potatoes through a colander reserving the oil.
Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel to ensure there are no bits stuck to the pan, as it has to be completely clean to prevent the omelet from sticking when cooking it.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl and season with some fresh grated nutmeg, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Add the cooked onions and potatoes and allow them to sit in the egg mixture for about 15-30 minutes.
Heat about 2 TBSP of the reserved oil in the same skillet and allow it to get quite hot. Dump the egg mixture into the skillet and with a rubber spatula spread it evenly. Lower the heat to medium and shake the pan a few times to prevent the omelet from sticking. Be careful that the underneath doesn’t burn.
Now comes the tricky part. You have to turn the tortilla so it cooks on the other side. If you have a flat lid large (without edges) large enough to accommodate it, then use it – otherwise a large plate will work. Working quickly, place the plate over the skillet and invert the tortilla onto the place, add 1 more TBSP of oil and slide it back onto the pan. It should cook a total of 4 minutes per side.
Make sure you have a tight hold of the skillet handle and the plate at the same time, when you are inverting the tortilla, as you don’t want the contents to fall all over the stove! It sounds complicated but once you have done it a few times, you’ll get the hang of it – and seriously, the results are worth it, believe me! The omelet should be juicy and creamy inside, as the time it sits on the counter will set it, making it tender and delicious.
There is another variation, where 1 chopped green bell pepper is cooked separately and added to the eggs with the onion and potato mixture.