I know that the world hardly needs another recipe for Spanish Omelet, or if we want to be authentic about it, tortilla española. (Sorry, I was a Spanish major, I can’t help myself).
It’s always surprising to me how much I love this simple dish–just eggs, potatoes, olive oil, with some onions to add some extra sweetness and complexity. But like so many classics, it is one of those cases where the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts. I make it so often that the word “tortilla” immediately brings this egg and potato cake to mind, rather than the Mexican version that is more like a crepe.
OK, so I love it–but back to the point, why another post? Because over time I’ve figured a few tricks that might not be totally authentic, but certainly make things a lot easier for me. Maybe they will for you too.
The standard technique requires you to flip the partly-cooked tortilla over onto a plate, and slide it back into the pan to cook the other side. I’m always taken aback by this step. Think about it: one side of your tortilla searingly hot, the other runny with uncooked eggs. Maneuvering a heavy, even hotter pan over a large platter. Maybe I lack a certain grace and dexterity, but this often ends poorly for me, and even when I’ve pulled it off, the stress of the lead-up did not make for a relaxing kitchen experience.
And then, I really really hate thinly slicing that many potatoes. They slip, they stick to the knife, they are hard to get evenly cut, and there’s a lot of them. And then you have to do the same with the onion.
If you’re with me on either or both of these obstacles, keep reading.
To avoid, quite literally, egg on my face, I run the tortilla under the broiler rather than attempt feats of flipping. I treat it like the frittata that it essentially is. This works like a charm to finish off the tortilla, but with one caveat–it works really quickly as well. You’ll have to keep a close eye so as not to overcook your tortilla at the home stretch. It takes a few minutes at most, so your time hovering by the oven will be brief.
As for that chopping–I’ve found a mandoline to be essential. If you’re adept with the knife, you can skip this, but I love the quick work it makes of things. I am fully willing to admit that I spent a long time being terrified of a mandoline. Given how liable I am to slice my fingers when merely peeling potatoes, I shudder to think…but my mother-in-law gave me a cut-resistant glove along with a mandoline and this was just the armor I needed. Perhaps its more psychological than anything else, but that glove has me reaching for the mandoline without trepidation, able to take full advantage of the speed it offers while preserving my fingertips–and making tortilla more often than ever before.
Finally, unlike most members of the omelet family, tortilla is best enjoyed at room temperature. If you allow it to cool before slicing, it firms up nicely and each savory triangle releases from the skillet that much more easily. Enjoy as is, or even on a baguette for a delicious sandwich.
Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet)
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs potatoes
- 1 onion
- 6-8 eggs
- kosher salt to taste