Recipe: Tortilla de Patata – Spanish Omelette
Monday 13th July, 2020
- 4 or 5 eggs, depending on size of potatoes
- 5 or 6 medium sized potatoes
- 1 onion
- Oil for frying - olive oil for frying is probably best
About this recipe…
This is a recipe that is simple and delicious and can be eaten hot or cold, making it ideal for chopping into pieces and packing in a picnic. A stalwart of picnics in the mountains or on the beaches of Galicia, it tastes amazing with eggs from the grain-fed free-range hens there. What follows is a traditional Galician version of Tortilla Española as taught to me by my mother.
Some people will say that the healthy option is to boil the potato first and then slice it. This will ruin the flavour and texture of the finished tortilla and isn’t recommended. Also, if you’re getting tortilla in Spain, don’t go for the thickest one you see! While it may look amazing, the deeper the tortilla, the drier it is likely to be – also, it is definitely possible to have too much tortilla!
As well as the ingredients you’ll need a frying pan, a plate a little bit wider than the pan, and a large bowl to stick everything into. A sharp strong knife for the onions and potatoes is also vital.
1. Start by peeling the potatoes and then chopping them. The method for this involves cutting small wedges from the potato. Once you’ve cut the first wedge, rotate the potato so the sharp angle you’ve created is at the top, and cut another wedge. You should end up with lots of small pieces of potato with flat edges.
2. Add oil to the frying pan and heat it – a medium to low heat is ideal, and if you’ve a non-stick pan, that’s even better! You’ll need about 3 or 4 tablespoons of oil, enough to cover the base of the pan. Don’t be too worried if you put in too much – you’ll also be frying the onion and the finished tortilla in it – traditionally the potatoes are sauteed. Add all the potato to the pan – it should sizzle and start cooking. Make sure to stir it and prevent it from sticking. If it is sticking you probably need to reduce the heat. My mam insists on cooking them on a low heat to avoid any sticking at all but I’m not as patient. This part of the recipe takes at least 20 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes. You can speed it along a bit by covering the pan with the large plate, but you definitely don’t want to boil the potatoes when you do this as your flavour will be ruined.
3. While the potatoes are cooking, finely chop the onions for later.
4. Then break the eggs into a large bowl, beat them and add a generous pinch of salt. Check the potatoes – try one of your bigger chunks. They need to be completely soft, and ideally have a tiny bit of browning here and there. You can add a bit of salt just before you stir them for the final time. Then take your pan and scoop the contents into the egg, leaving as much oil behind in the pan as possible.
If you want to add chorizo, chop cooked chorizo up into small pieces and add to the egg now – it’ll give a bit more flavour to the whole tortilla.
5. Turn up the heat a bit, add the onion, give it a stir, and then go to your bowl with the egg and potato. Adding the hot potato to the egg will start cooking the egg, so make sure you mix it up very thoroughly. You may need to do this a few times while the onions are cooking. The onions will take about five to seven minutes to cook, let them brown and soften, and then add them to the bowl and mix it all up very thoroughly. Lower the heat of the hob. If there’s not enough egg, if it just looks like a mess of potato and onion, don’t worry – that’s how it’s supposed to look! You can always beat another egg and add it to the mix depending on your taste.
6. Now you want the entire contents of the bowl back into the pan – if you’re using a non-stick pan you may not need any more oil. If you do add oil, make sure you’ve some kitchen paper to absorb oil from your finished tortilla. Let the tortilla sit in the pan for about five minutes.
7. Once you see that the sides are cooked, you need to get that big plate. Cover the pan and flip the whole thing upside down so the plate is now underneath the pan. If it’s cooked right you should hear it land on the plate! Put the pan back on the hob and then slide the tortilla back into the pan. Depending on how much you’d cooked the first side, there should just be a little bit of egg and potato on the plate.
Wash the plate, dry it and cover it with paper towels to absorb the oil from the tortilla. Turn off the heat of the hob and let the tortilla sit there for a few minutes. Then slide it out on to the plate, slice, and enjoy!
Some people love the tortilla to be soft inside, with the egg barely cooked – just cook it very quickly on a higher heat and once turned, take it off the heat after a similar amount of time. If yours turns out like this accidentally, make sure it’s eaten within a day. The tortilla will last a couple of days at most if kept in the fridge.
Cut into small chunks and serve as tapas, or slice thinly and put between two buttered slices of bread with a dollop of ketchup for the expat special.
After looking over my recipe, my mama told me that this is not her recipe – it’s closer to a traditional version! Hers, which I’ll try and replicate next time I make it, involves adding the onions with the potato from the beginning, giving a sweeter flavour to the potatoes. Also, she suggested adding the chorizo midway through the cooking of the potato and onion so that the paprika and garlic flavours from the chorizo, along with the oils, can also infuse the potato. A difference you will notice is that the whole tortilla will have the flavour of chorizo, rather than when you’re just lucky enough to find a chunk. Thanks mammy!
eggs onions potatoes