Monday, January 9, 2012

Spanish Tortilla

My sister is in Spain and emailed recently that her host mom made a delicious "quiche like thing" with potatoes and onions.  Of course, she meant tortilla, and she brought me back to a time when a real life Spaniard stayed in my apartment in the Bronx and enlightened me to the glory that is tortilla.  Tortilla is the Spanish version of a giant omelet with less eggs and more potatoes and onions.  In my first experience there were also red peppers involved, so I included them this time too.

I sliced up two small yellow onions, half of a red bell pepper and five small red potatoes.  The potatoes should be sliced thinly.  To do this, cut a potato in half and then sit it on the new flat edge.  Slice down from the rounded top of the potato thinly through.  Combine potatoes, onions and peppers in a bowl and salt well.  This mixture gets cooked on medium heat in 1-2 cups of olive oil for around 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.  The potatoes should still be white in the end, don't deep fry those suckers to a crisp.
After the potatoes are soft enough to break easily with a fork, drain the mixture saving about four tablespoons of the used oil.  I took some oil out of the pan with a spoon before I drained to make it easier. Return drained mixture to a large bowl and add 5-7 whisked eggs.  Mix carefully with a spatula but be careful not to crush the potato slices.  I added half of the reserved oil back to the pan to heat for a minute before adding the egg and potato mixture.
I cooked the mixture on the first side on medium to high heat for about 10 minutes.  Now comes the freakin' hard and nerve-racking part: flipping this giant mother.  I assure you that no spatula is up for the task of this giant omelet.  Most people use a plate to cover the pan and then flip so that the omelet lands on the plate.  My pan was too big for this, so I used a combination of a wooden cutting board with a flimsy plastic cutting board for structure and easy-slide surface.  This is a two person job and time is of the essence because the top of the tortilla is still runny and we don't want leakage.  Slide the flipped tortilla back into the pan with the cooked side up and relish in golden brown glory.  The relief after flipping is intense.  Cook for another 10 minutes and it's done.  Some like it cold, some like it hot, I like it either way.  
Look at those layers people.  Beautiful.

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