What to do with potatoes in season? Tortilla de patata is one answer. Delicious, well suited to hot weather, and ideally accompanied by a refreshing salad – and rioja.
Tortilla De Patata
Tortilla de patata – or ‘potato omelette’ – is much more than a meal to the Spanish. It is a passion, a craft, a life skill that is passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter, and not forgetting from father to son too.
There are competitions in towns all over Spain that are keenly contested and include people of every age and background. Tortilla cooking is not a ‘geek’ thing, it is core to the Spanish culture, way of life, and is part of their national identity.
Above all else, it is delicious, eaten regularly in Spanish homes, and is a staple ‘tapas’ in bars.
- 8 eggs (4 for each omelette)
- 6 – 8 large potatoes
- 1 large onion
- Cloves of garlic to taste
- Olive oil
The ingredients will be enough for two large thick omelettes. If served on thick pieces of bread, it should easily satisfy four adults. Accompany with a fresh tomato,onion, and lettuce salad.
How To Make Tortilla De Patata
Step 1 – Preparing The Vegetables
The first step of preparing the tortilla is to soften the potatoes, onion, and garlic.
Peel the potatoes and slice them really thin. This is crucial, as the objective is to cook the potatoes so they are soft, almost crumbly, providing the almost cake like texture of the omelette – there should be no ‘crunch’ when eating a tortilla de patata.
Also, chop the onions and garlic into very fine pieces.
Next, forget all health concerns, and cook all the choppings in a swimming pool of olive oil. This is really important – do not skimp on the oil for health or money reasons – as the objective is the delicious texture that can only be achieved this way.
Firstly turn the heat up high and then as soon as the first sizzle happens (and before there is absolutely any chance of browning or crispiness) remove to a low heat and cover with a lid. The mixture slowly boils in oil, softening all the time, with the oil both transferring the flavours and being absorbed by the potato.
The mixture will need to be turned regularly and after about 30 minutes it should be really soft. My recommendation is to taste the potato and if it is absolutely soft and smooth (almost mash potato like in your mouth) it is done. Do not worry if some of the potato pieces crumble – the texture is the most important thing.
Last act – and a nod towards healthy eating – decant the mixture into a colander and try to press out as much olive oil as possible. This olive oil can be re-used for the next step of frying the omelette, or for the next day’s tortilla making.
Step 2 – Cooking The Omelette
The final stage is cooking the tortilla itself. Mix together four eggs into a large bowl. Then take about four heaped desert spoons of the potato mixture and add this to the eggs, season with salt, and mix together well.
There is no hard rule for the exact mix of egg to mixture. The ideal texture should look like lumpy porridge, ie plenty of potato, but with lots of egg and liquid still around it.
Put a small amount of oil in pan and place over a high heat. When the oil is hot, throw the mixture into the pan and then after only a few seconds remove and continue cooking for a minute or so over a gentle heat.
Tortilla de patata should not look bronzed. When the base is firm the omelette is ready for turning as in the picture above.
Place a large plate over the omelette face down. Holding the plate firmly on the omelette, lift and turn the pan upside down (the omelette should now be on the plate with the uncooked side touching the plate). Then carefully slide the omelette back into the pan over the gentle heat.
Continue cooking for a minute or so until the base is firm but not bronzed (it is fine for the middle of the omelette still to have some runnyness to it) and then transfer to a clean plate and eat whilst warm.
Good luck !