Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lunch, Olé! How to Make Authentic Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Omelette)

Nothing hits the spot like comfort food, especially on a snowy weekend day like we're having here in Pennsylvania. Whether you're holed up inside like me, or soaking up a hot sunny day in one of those warmer climates I've been told exist out there somewhere (jealous!), today's recipe is intended to fill your belly and your heart.
Tortilla de Patatas...mmm, ¡qué rica!
This isn't your grandmother's comfort food, though (unless your granny is a sweet Spanish señora who continually insists that you eat "¡Más, más!"). Today's recipe is straight from the heart of sunny Andalucía and is brought to you thanks to my guapísimo husband Tomás, 100% Spaniard and 99% momma's boy (hence the awesome cooking skills).
My man and his momma, two awesome
Spanish cooks, on our wedding day
Tortilla de Patatas, or Tortilla Española, is a very typical Spanish dish that is basically an omelette stuffed with fried potatoes and onions. You can eat it hot or cold, which makes it versatile as a classic dinner on a cold night or the perfect dish to bring along on a summer picnic.

So, ¡vamos!; let's get at it!

You're going to make one tortilla, which will serve 4 people as a main dish or 8 people as a side dish. We actually made ours as two smaller omelettes because we only had a small skillet. Whether you do one big one or two smaller ones, the instructions are the same, just use your egg mixture accordingly when it's time to pour it in the skillet.
My supplies, minus a couple things I didn't realize I'd need
(but everything's on the list below!)
You'll need:
*8 large eggs
*4 medium-sized potatoes
*1 onion
*Olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
*2 skillets (one for the onions and one for the potatoes, and later, the actual omelette)
*A strainer or bowl to rinse the potatoes in
*A mixing bowl
*A plate for flipping the omelette
*A knife and/or potato peeler for peeling and cutting the potatoes and onion
*A spatula
*A whisk
*One sexy Spanish guy (if you don't have one readily available, just borrow mine via this post)

First, peel the potatoes and chop them up into chunks. Don't make them too small-they're supposed to be chunky in the omelette.
Rinse the potatoes. Might seem obvious, but I've been known to overlook seemingly apparent details, so I don't assume.
Pour a generous amount of olive oil into one of the skillets, enough that a layer of the potatoes are going to be covered by olive oil.
Let the olive oil warm up on a medium heat setting (we put it on 6 by our stove's setting).
The olive oil is ready when you can hold your hand over the skillet and feel the heat rising off the oil. Don't wait for it to be boiling. Once it's ready, put in the potatoes. (Note: if you're using a small skillet like we did, only about half of the potatoes will fit in the skillet. Once these are done, repeat with the second half of the potatoes.) 
While the potatoes begin to fry, get your onion ready. Tomás taught me to first slice off the ends-this makes it easier to peel off all those papery layers. 
Once the onion is peeled, chop it up. These pieces should be smaller than the potato ones.
Get your second skillet on the stove, but this time, only put in enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Warm it up on a medium setting and wait for it to warm up just like we did with the potatoes. 
 Once the skillet's ready, put in the onions. You should be able to fit all the onions in the one skillet.
Now we wait for the potatoes and onions to fry up. Keep moving them both around to keep them from sticking to the bottom and to make sure they get evenly cooked.
 The potatoes are done when they are starting to turn golden.
 Same for the onions; just get them a bit golden.
Once the potatoes and onions are golden, take them off the burner. Remember, you may have to go through the potato steps twice if they didn't all fit in the one skillet. We moved our potatoes to a plate so we could brown the second batch in the same skillet. In the meantime, just set the onions aside.
Golden and soon-to-be delicious
 Now you can crack the eggs into the mixing bowl and whisk them up.
 Make sure to whisk them really well so the mixture isn't stringy at all.
 Add in all of the potatoes and onions.

 Add just a few quick shakes of salt. A dash, if you will.
 Stir the egg mixture to make sure everything's evenly mixed.
Take one of the skillets you already used and put it back on the burner. Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, and warm on a medium setting.
Once the oil is warm, pour in the egg mixture. It'll be the whole mixture or just half, depending on what size skillet you used. When the egg is in, turn the heat down a bit.
Use your spatula to push the omelette away from the edge to allow the egg to fill in that space and cook. Do this all the way around the edge to make sure no egg pools on top.
Keep pulling up the side of the omelette to peek underneath. As soon as the bottom is starting to look golden, it's time to flip it. This is a crucial step where the omelette could get burned if you wait to long to flip it, so be sure to do this as soon as it starts to look golden.
It's time to flip! Tomás has a very scientific method which involved covering the skillet with a plate, flipping it over fast as lighting, and sliding the omelette from the plate back in to the skillet. Allow him to demonstrate:
Now that the omelette is flipped, do the same thing again, keeping an eye on the underside and taking it from the skillet as soon as it's looking golden. Go ahead and do the second omelette if you were making two smaller ones.
Ya está, ¡muy bien! When you're ready to serve, cut the tortilla into sections like a pie. Enjoy warm or cold. Tomás wants me to add that most Spanish people prefer it cold!
If you make this recipe, come back and let us know how you liked it! I find that Americans tend to be a bit wary at the idea of an omelette that's made with potatoes and not eaten for breakfast (especially if it's served cold), so I'm very interested to see what you think! I'm a very picky American eater, and I love it, so it can't be tooooo exotic.

¡Qué aproveche!


  1. Hi, this is Brenna Kangas. I pinned this to Pinterest and you had commented. For some reason, Pinterest is not allowing me to reply. So, here is what my response would have been:

    Well, my description was completely true! I love how down to earth you seem. Can't wait to read more of your postings.

    By the way...this is DELICIOUS!!!

    1. Aw, thanks for taking the trouble to reply, Brenna! I really appreciate it. So did you make the tortilla?

    2. I sure did. It was AMAZING! Thank you for sharing.


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