How to Make a Spanish Tortilla

Guest post by Carina of The Jet Set

What’s a tortilla? Something flat that you wrap around meat and beans? Hardly. A Spanish tortilla, a potato pancake, that is pretty much the national snack. It’s so simple. My childhood memories are of my abuela or mom tying aprons around their waists and using a paring knife to thinly slice bits of potato into hot olive oil. Soon, the hot tortilla would  slide out of the pan and into our little bellies. The ingredients are basic and so versatile. Serve it hot, cold, or room temperature. Some people put a slice of tortilla in between bread for a sandwich. Those people are usually men. In Spain we leave it out on the counter and just slice off pieces as the mood strikes.

I used a well-seasoned 12” cast iron skillet for this recipe. You could also use a non-stick pan. If it’s a smaller pan, use less ingredients (ex., 4-5 potatoes instead of 6-7; 1 tablespoon oil instead of 2.) A non-stick pan may need less olive oil.

Recipe for Spanish Tortilla

1 small yellow onion
5-8 yellow potatoes depending on their size (don’t use russets if you can help it, they make a dry tortilla)
5 eggs
Olive Oil
Optional ingredients: I used 1 tsp of smoked paprika here (pimenton.) Other things you can include: peas, roasted red peppers, spinach, ham, bacon, whatever! No cheese; we’re not Italian.

1. I cut the larger potatoes in half, and then used a mandolin slicer to quickly make uniform slices of the potatoes. If you don’t have one, try to cut the potatoes as evenly and thinly as possible (but those slicers are only about 10 bucks, so you might want to invest.) Peel the onion, trim the ends, slice in half, and thinly slice it, too. Toss the potatoes and onions with ½ tsp of salt and a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

2. Heat about ¼ cup of olive oil in the pan over medium low heat for at least 5 minutes. Add about 1/3 of the of the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt. Cook them on medium low. Yes, MEDIUM LOW, until they are translucent. Stir them regularly–do not allow them to brown; you’re not making hash browns. Set them to drain over a paper towel-lined plate. Cook the rest of the potatoes the same way, adding a couple tablespoons of olive oil to the pan each time.

See the potato slice on the left? It’s cooked perfectly, you can see the pattern of the plate almost through it. The slice on the right is raw. Taste your cooked potatoes, are they adequately salted? Good.

3. Beat the 5 eggs with a fork until combined. Add ½ tsp salt. Add all the potatoes into the bowl and stir around.

4. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and swirl around, make sure to get the sides. Pour in the eggs and potatoes. Let them cook for about 5-7 minutes, covered if you like, still on medium low. Resist the urge to turn up the temp. The tortilla in the picture is ready to flip–do you see how the eggs on the edges have cooked?

5. Loosen the edges of the tortilla with a knife or spatula. Set a plate that is bigger than the pan on top. Put your hand on top of the plate, grab the handle with the other, take a big breath, and quickly invert the whole thing. Fortune favors the bold (do it fast.)

6. Add another teaspoon or two of olive oil to the pan. Remember when I told you to resist turning up the temp? Yeah…I turned it up and it got a little dark. No big. Take your inverted tortilla and slide it, raw side down, into the pan. Cook another 4 minutes and invert the tortilla back onto your plate.

While your tortilla is cooking, you should make some aioli–a garlic mayonnaise.

Aioli – a Garlic Mayonnaise

2 cloves garlic (I put mine through a press)
2 egg yolks (yes, raw, deal with it)
1 tsp Dijon mustard (forgot to put it in the picture)
½ tsp salt
Juice of half a lemon
Olive oil
White whine vinegar (maybe)

1. Put the yolks, garlic, mustard, salt, and lemon juice into your food processor or blender. You can do it by hand, too, but it just takes a little longer.

2. Turn on your food processor and add a slow stream of olive oil until the mixture thickens.

It should look like this above. Taste it and add more salt, or a few dashes of vinegar if you think it needs it. Does it taste good and strong? Good.

Cut your tortilla into wedges, serve with the aioli. A green salad is the perfect accompaniment. If you want to be really Spanish, toss the salad with just olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a little salt.

Carina is a professional writer and marketer who made two boys with a mathematician. They are planning on a girl sequel this summer. When people called her childhood home, they’d mention they spoke with her maid. That’s not her maid, that’s her abuela. She blogs over at The Jet Set.

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