On the heels of our European adventures, the artist showed up at my door with two bags of groceries. Among other goodies inside, I found a bag of potatoes, a carton of eggs, and an onion.
These three ingredients led themselves perfectly to the re-creation of a true standby at any of Spain’s tapas bars – Tortilla Española. At first glance, the name of the dish might be misleading, making you think of a staple in Mexican cuisine – the tortilla – made out of either corn or wheat flour, used for tacos, enchiladas, etc.
The Spanish version of the tortilla is a different animal, altogether. It is an omelet, of sorts, made with thinly sliced or cubed potatoes. Served either warm or at room temperature, it is accompanied by aioli, a mixture of olive-oil based mayonnaise and lots of garlic.
Unfortunately, the two times we had Tortilla Española in Spain, the results were less than stellar. The dish was bland and offered little joy. Having tasted many delicious versions of this potato omelet in the past (both at restaurants and homemade), I decided to cook us one for breakfast.
Both the ingredients and the methods for this dish are somewhat simple. I will try to guide you through the process in a casual manner. If at all possible, you want to use a mandoline to create uniform, thin slices of potatoes, and a non-stick pan (somehow, I don’t own one and had to use two stainless steel pans instead).
Note: I do not claim this to be a traditional version of Tortilla Española. I have added onion, garlic and paprika to mine. In the past, I have also added sliced bell peppers.
Recipe for Tortilla Española, Serves 2-4
Olive oil and vegetable oil
2 Russet potatoes (medium in size), scrubbed, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1/8″)
1/4 onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
4 eggs, whisked
dash of paprika
1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan (Like I said earlier, I used stainless steel pans. I used a larger pan to cook the potatoes and switched to a smaller one for making the actual omelet).
2. Add potatoes to the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally (You want to make sure the potatoes cook until almost tender, but do not brown. Mine browned slightly – I presume the heat was a bit too high, and my patience was a bit low. When cooking potatoes, I like to cover them with a lid to speed up the process).
3. Add onion and garlic to the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the onion is soft and potatoes are tender.
4. Whisk eggs with paprika, salt, and pepper. Slowly pour the eggs over the potatoes (At this point, I switched to a smaller pan to give the omelet more height). Lower the heat and continue to cook until the egg is set.
5. Get ready to flip! If you are brave, attempt the flipping of the omelet directly inside the pan. For those of you are more risk averse, cover the pan with a large plate, hold the plate securely, and flip the pan – the omelet will now be resting securely on the plate. Carefully, slide the omelet off the plate back into the pan and finish cooking until the egg is completely set.
6. Once cooked, remove the Tortilla Española from the pan and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Cut the Tortilla Española into wedges and serve with garlic aioli.
This will taste even better with a glass or two of red sangria, some cold cuts and a slice of manchego. I almost feel like I am back in a tapas bar.
Back to the blog