Tortilla Espanola - Spanish Omelet
No doubt about it, the Tortilla Espanola or Spanish omelet is the most commonly served dish in Spain. Bars and cafés serve it as a tapa or appetizer, but it is often served as a light dinner in Spanish homes. Because it is easy to transport, the Spanish make bocadillos or sandwiches by placing a piece between two pieces of a baguette.
6-7 medium potatoes, peeled
1 whole yellow onion
5-6 large eggs
2-3 cups of olive oil for pan frying
Salt to taste
Preparing the Potatoes and Onions
Cut the peeled potatoes in half lengthwise. Then, with the flat side on the cutting surface, slice the potato in pieces approximately 1/8" thick. Make sure to separate the pieces that stick together. It is not necessary to slice the potatoes paper thin and it is best not to use a food processor because most will slice the potatoes too thin. If you slice them a bit thick, don’t worry – it will simply take a bit longer for them to cook.
Peel and chop the onion into 1/4" pieces. Put potatoes and onions into a bowl and mix them together. Salt the mixture.
Frying the Potatoes and Onions
In a large, heavy, non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Drop a single piece of potato into the oil to ensure it is hot enough to fry. Carefully place the potato and onion mixture into the frying pan, spreading them evenly over the surface. The oil should almost cover the potatoes. You may need to turn down the heat slightly, so the potatoes do not burn.
Note: If the oil is too hot, the potatoes will brown rapidly on the outside, but still be raw on the inside.
Leave in pan until the potatoes are cooked. If you can poke a piece of potato with a spatula and it easily breaks in two, your potatoes are done. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula. Some cooks like to place the potato and onion mixture in a colander for a few minutes to allow more oil to drain. If you do this, place a plate underneath to catch the olive oil and you can use it again.
While the mixture is draining, crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat by hand with a whisk or fork. Pour in the potato onion mixture. Mix together with a large spoon.
Cooking the Tortilla
Pour 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil into a small, non-stick frying pan (aprox. 9-10”) and heat on medium heat. Be careful not to get the pan too hot because the oil will burn - or the tortilla will! When hot, stir the potato onion mixture once more and “pour” into the pan and spread out evenly. Allow the egg to cook around the edges. Then you can carefully lift up one side of the omelet to check if the egg has slightly “browned.” The inside of the mixture should not be completely cooked and the egg will still be runny.
Turning the Tortilla
When the mixture has browned on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side. Carefully take the frying pan to a sink. Place a large dinner plate (12”) upside down over the frying pan. With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and the omelet will “fall” onto the plate. Place the frying pan back on the range and put just enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan – approximately 1.5 tsp. Let the pan warm for 30 seconds or so.
Now slide the omelet (which is probably still a bit runny), into the frying pan, using a spatula to catch any egg mixture that runs out. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet. Let the omelet cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2 minutes.
Carefully slide the omelet onto a plate! To serve as a main course, slice it into 6-8 pieces like a pie. Serve sliced French bread on the side.
If you are serving as an appetizer, slice a baguette into pieces about ½ inch think. Cut the tortilla into 1.5” squares and place a piece on top of each slice of bread.
It is simply delicious served with sofrito, fried tomato sauce that is made all over Spain. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers and olive oil sautéed in a frying pan.
The following are a few of the most popular variations to the classic Tortilla Espanola.
Green Pepper - Add 1 green or red bell pepper (chopped) to the potatoes and onions and fry.
Chorizo - Slice a Spanish chorizo sausage and add to the potato and onion mixture after frying.
Ham - Using a couple thick slices (1/4") ham, finely chop them. Then add the pieces to the potato and onion mixture after frying. Canadian bacon or smoked ham that you buy in a deli work well for this variation. Be careful to adjust the salt accordingly, since ham may be salty!
To Serve as a Main Course: Slice it into 6-8 pieces like a pie. Serve sliced French bread on the side.
To Serve as a Tapa: Slice a baguette into pieces about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the tortilla into 1 1/2-inch; squares and place each piece on top of a slice of bread.