Grab a crisp, dry and full-of-the-refreshing-flavours-of-pear PG to accompany this. The rich fruitiness goes beautifully with the down to earth flavours in tortilla and has a vibrancy that lightens the richness of the potato and egg, lifting it from comfort food into a delicious appetizer. The tortilla (pronounced ‘tor-tea-ya’) is served in most tapas bars throughout Spain and when done right, is potato heaven. The meltingly tender potato and onion, encased in eggy, olive oily goodness is mouth-wateringly irresistible and despite using only four ingredients, is a really impressive looking dish. It can be served at room temperature or cold and is perfect for appetizers, picnics or a light summer dinner. I have a tendency to overshare my exploits in the kitchen on social media and I think the tortilla has featured more often than photos of my children. The visual feast that is the simple Spanish potato omelette has caused plenty of virtual drooling from my friends – it photographs well and tastes even better. It’s also a great dish to share in person and one that I regularly trot out for get togethers with friends or Sunday afternoon tapas at home. I have been known to say that my tortilla is better than my husband’s Spanish auntie’s but I was roundly shouted down for such a treasonous suggestion. I have to say though, it is pretty bloody good.
Ingredients100ml extra virgin olive oil 3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you have one) 1 medium onion, very thinly sliced 6 eggs salt
MethodLarge slices are not easy to turn in the pan – to make it easier, slice each potato in half crossways before thinly slicing (preferably with a mandolin if you have one). Pat the slices dry with paper towel or tea towel to remove excess moisture. Add the oil to a non-stick 20-23cm frying pan over low heat and slide in the potato slices. Using a spatula, gently turn the slices so that they have all been coated in oil. Place a lid on the pan and fry the potatoes gently for 5 minutes, checking and turning once or twice. Don’t allow the potato to brown or crisp – the aim is to achieve more of a ‘confit’ result, cooked slowly in the oil. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a bowl and stir with a fork – don’t over stir. Add salt and set aside. Next, add the onion slices to the potato, turn potatoes and onions gently and replace the lid. Cook for a further 10 minutes, gently turning a few times to avoid the potato sticking to the pan or browning. Check with a fork and when almost falling apart, remove the pan from the heat. Set a colander/sieve over a bowl and carefully tip the potato and onion into the colander, allowing the oil to run through into the bowl underneath (don’t use any force to squeeze the oil from potatoes). Put reserved oil aside. Tip the drained potatoes into the egg, add a couple of pinches of salt and gently submerge the potatoes into the egg. Leave the potato mixture to sit for 30 minutes (up to an hour if you have the time – the longer it sits, the better the tortilla seems to come together in the final stages). Wipe the frying pan clean with a paper towel and add two tablespoons of the reserved oil. Heat over high heat. Tip potato mixture gently into the pan and as soon as it hits the hot oil and starts to puff up around the edges, turn the heat down to low. Press the mixture into the pan so that it is evenly disbursed and then you need to spend a bit of time ‘shaping’ the edges of the tortilla. This involves gently pressing upwards round the sides with a flat spatula so that the tortilla is of even thickness right across, not tapering off at the edges. It will start to form a kind of cake shape in the pan as the egg cooks and the tortilla starts to firm up. Now, for the flip. Don’t let it freak you out - if you’ve done everything right at this stage, the flipping is easy. Find a plate that is slightly bigger than the pan. Fit it across the pan and take it off the heat (do this over a sink in case any excess oil drips out). Holding the pan in one hand and the plate firmly across the top of the pan, invert the pan onto the plate and then lift the pan off. You should find the tortilla has neatly landed on the plate, with maybe a little excess oil. Next, put the pan back on the stove and gently slide the tortilla into the pan to brown the other side over a low heat. Some of the potato and egg mixture may not have completely hung together and might slide out onto the plate – use the spatula to push this under the tortilla and it should all form back into the finished shape as it keeps cooking. Continue to cook over low heat while gently shaping the edges and top to maintain a flat, cake-like shape. This should take another 5-10 minutes. When the tortilla is firm, turn off the heat and leave it in the pan for another few minutes. Flip it onto a clean plate and cover with a clean cloth until you’re ready to serve.
ServingThe tortilla slices up best if you let it sit on a plate for a while, don't serve it up straight away -lukewarm is great, even cold is perfectly acceptable. Slice it into small cubes or serve in slices. In Spanish tapas bars, the tortilla is often served on a slice of crusty bread.
Tips from the kitchen:Many people cut the potatoes into small cubes rather than slicing – the end result should be very similar to the above but I find it easier at pan-flipping time if the potatoes have been sliced rather than diced, they seem to hold together better! Keep any reserved oil in a tightly sealed container and use it when you next want to bake a batch of crunchy roast potatoes.