To a native Californian like myself, a “tortilla” is round and flat, and comes in only two styles, flour and corn. So the concept that a tortilla could also be a thick potato omelette, took some getting used to. But that is the difference between a Spanish tortilla and a Mexican tortilla. The Spanish version is made by frying thinly sliced potatoes in olive oil, then layering those slices in a pan (preferably a cast iron frying pan), covering with beaten eggs, and cooking until set. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal, and only requires a few ingredients which you likely have in your pantry. It’s good warm, room temperature, or cold, and makes for great leftovers.
Now I’ve never been to Spain, but if you have, and you recall a favorite version of the Spanish tortilla, please let us know about it in the comments. For those of you for whom this concept is entirely new, I do encourage you to try this recipe, I think you’ll like it!
Spanish Tortilla Recipe
Waxy potatoes such as Yukon Golds or red-skinned new potatoes work well in this dish. Avoid using russets. This recipe is meant for a 9 inch diameter pan. If your pan is larger, add a couple eggs. If your pan is a full 12 inches, add 4 eggs, another potato and another green onion.
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 2 Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2-3 green onions (or 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion), chopped up to the light green parts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
1 Slice the potatoes (peeled or unpeeled) into disks between 1/4 and 1/8 inch wide. (Helps to use a mandoline for this purpose.)
2 Pour the olive oil into a cast-iron or hard anodized aluminum pan (a pan that will be able to take the heat of a broiler in the oven) and heat it over medium-high heat. When it is hot enough to sizzle the potatoes as soon as they hit the oil – test with an end piece – start frying them in one layer. Working in batches, fry until they are lightly browned, not crispy. When they are done, let the potatoes dry on a paper towel and salt them well. Keep frying until they are all cooked.
3 When the potatoes are all done, pour off most of the oil and sauté the onions. When they are just starting to crisp, turn off the heat. Arrange the onions so they are evenly covering the bottom of the pan. Arrange the potatoes on the pan in a scalloped pattern.
4 Turn the heat back on to medium, and pour in the eggs. Add a generous pinch of salt. Shake the pan to get the eggs to coat everything in the pan. Let this cook until you see the edges of the tortilla begin to set, then put the pan under the broiler.
5 Cook it under the broiler for 5 minutes, or until the top browns. (If you prefer to finish the tortilla on the stovetop instead of the broiler, slide the tortilla out of the pan onto a plate. Then invert the pan over the plate, and flip the whole thing, pan and plate so that the tortilla falls back into the pan, less-cooked side down.) Remove the pan and set it to cool for at least 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve. It’s also good at room temperature, and will keep a couple days in the fridge.
Yield: Serves 2-4.