Every culture has its culinary staples. In America we lay claim to mac n’ cheese, burgers n’fries, cobb salad, or deep fried anything! In India every family seems to have a recipe for a variety of dal, yogurt, or delicious flat bread. Many foreigner’s would go to Spain expecting to find paella everywhere – and they would probably find some lovely versions…
Yet, anyone who has stayed a length of time in a Spanish home, travelled through Spanish villages, or asked a local what they eat, knows that you are more likely to find jàmon (one of hundreds varieties of ham), perhaps some menestra de verduras (vegetable stew), or a tortilla de patatas (spanish omelet with potatoes).
Tortilla de patatas is so common to the spanish kitchen that it is not really thought to be anything special. Often made early in the day, it is served at any temperature, at any hour – as tapas (a small plate or snack).
While staying in Spain, I developed a taste for tortilla with my cola-cao (very much like the Australian, Milo) in the afternoon. When I asked for it in the home of a friend, I received a puzzled look, and was told that we would be eating something “more special,” than a tortilla!
Though it was a daily occurrence for my friends, it felt special. Here is my version of tortilla de patatas. (It’s wonderful with a salad and a hot chocolate.)
2-3 medium size russet potatoes, peeled and sliced (I use russets because they have less water and tend to become creamy when cooked, but any variety is fantastic.)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 c olive oil
2 tsp salt
6 – 8 eggs (depending on size)
smoked paprika (for garnish)
Note: For this dish, use a 9″, oven safe skillet. The dish bakes for nearly ten minutes at a high temperature. I prefer cast iron which heats evenly and transfers from stovetop to oven with ease. I have used copper as well as stainless steel, and both work well.
- Place oven rack in middle position. Pre-heat oven to 425° F.
- On the stovetop, pour the oil into the skillet and be sure to coat the cooking surface completely, the excess oil will pool in the bottom of the pan. Heat the skillet over medium heat until the oil shimmers (just before it smokes).
- Add onions, potatoes, and 1 tsp of salt. Stir gently until the potatoes and onions are well coated in oil and salt. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent and the potatoes are beginning to soften (7-8 minutes). Stir occasionally.
- In a medium size bowl, blend eggs with remaining salt and some pepper (I usually crack fresh pepper over the mixture until the dust is like a film on top of the eggs, then I blend them), until the mixture is homogenous.
- Stir eggs into the potatoes and onions until they are barely mixed.
- Now let the egg set for 1-2 minutes – the middle should jiggle when you shake the pan, but the edges should be a bit firm.
- Place the pan in the oven, uncovered, until the top has puffed up and become a lovely golden brown (9 minutes).
- Remove the pan from the oven, placing it back on the burner, and allow the tortilla to cool slowly.
(At this stage, you would typically invert the pan and place the tortilla on a serving plate. I tend to serve it straight out of the pan. You choose!)
- Sprinkle the cooled tortilla with smoked paprika! (Its flavor, aroma, and color are a wonderful addition to nearly any dish.)
Voila! Serve and enjoy! If you’re feeling adventurous, add a pepper, or some mushrooms to the potatoes and onion. Creativity in the kitchen is a marvelous thing.
Happy cooking! (and be sure to tell me how it works for you.)