My love affair with the Spanish tortilla started some 14 years ago when I was living in Barcelona, in a questionable barrio called El Raval. It was a hot Spanish summer, I didn’t know anyone in the city and my Spanish was very limited, despite the fact that I was studying intensively 5 days a week. In the days soon after I arrived I spent a lot of time on my own, wandering around the markets and eating (perhaps) a little too many pintxos.
So it was here, in a poky little kitchen on Carrer de Santa Elena (in an apartment I shared with a Basque girl I couldn’t understand) that I made my first tortilla…or attempted to make. It was more like a a heap of poorly cooked potato discs held together by egg. Not my finest cooking moment.
Not to be deterred by my disastrous beginnings, and inspired by a challenge, I started to pay greater attention to this humble dish. What was the perfect egg to potato ratio? Gooey or firm in the centre? Should you break the cooked potatoes up as you add them to the eggs or not?
I tried many ways of preparing, combining and cooking these four ingredients over the years and I’m pleased to say that I now have a recipe worth sharing – it’s a far cry from my frisbee-like tortilla of 2003.
Tortilla is a great dish for tapas/shared style lunches or dinners, actually it’s a great dish any time.
Tortilla de patatas
1/4 cup oil
4 medium potatoes, peeled
1 onion, peeled
Crusty bread to serve
Thinly slice your potatoes and onion, making sure that the width of the potatoes is more or less the same so they cook evenly. I put my potatoes and onion into the food processor and they are sliced in seconds.
Heat oil in a fry pan and when hot add the potato and onion. Turn the heat down to medium. You want to cook the potatoes until they are nice and tender, but not too crunchy, and the onions should caramelise. This will take approximately 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes over as you cook.
Meanwhile, place 5 eggs in a bowl with a generous pinch of salt and whisk lightly. When the potatoes and onions are cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and add to the egg mixture. Mix well. It doesn’t matter if the potatoes break up a little.
Drain the remaining oil out of the pan and wipe clean with some paper towel. Place it back on a medium – high heat and add a drizzle of oil. When hot, add the potato and egg mixture and cook for a couple of minutes or until the underside is nice and golden brown. You can test it by lifting it up at the sides with a fork.
When it’s nicely browned (but still gooey on top), flip the tortilla over. I do this by placing a clean plate over the fry pan and flipping it, then sliding the tortilla back into the pan. Tuck the sides of the tortilla under with a fork so you have nice rounded edges when it’s finished. Cook the other side for a couple of minutes until golden brown and turn out of the fry pan onto a plate.
Serve with crusty bread!