Spanish Tortilla

Spanish tortilla

Known as tortilla de patatas or tortilla española, this dish is not your Mexican tortilla but an omelette of potatoes bound together with eggs. This traditional Spanish food is commonly offered as a tapas served at bars or taken on picnics. It's what I'd like to think of as a Spanish version of the French quiche. In some areas of Spain these tortillas are made in large deep pans so the dish almost looks like a cake or a wheel of cheese. Tortillas made at home resemble American omelettes or Italian frittatas. What makes this tortilla so appealing is how buttery the potatoes turn when they are cooked in olive oil.

Making a tortilla always starts the same way: thin potato slices are boiled in olive oil. They must not be fried or get any color, they should be just cooked until tender. Next the potatoes are combined with beaten eggs and then poured and spread into a skillet. It is cooked on one side and then flipped over to cook on the other. The basic tortilla is made of simply potatoes and eggs, but other ingredients can be added, such as onions, bell peppers, or chorizo. This recipe features all three for the ultimate Spanish flavor.

Traditionally the tortilla is made entirely on the stove top. Once one side is cooked, it is turned out onto a plate and slid back in the pan so the other side cooks. In Spain they have special plates for the procedure. To make it a bit easier for the home cook, the top can be broiled. The thing I love most about a Spanish tortilla is that it can be served at any time of the day. It's perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. Or do as the Spanish do and enjoy it as an appetizer or bar snack with drinks. It's the kind of dish that everyone will love however you serve it.

Spanish Tortilla

Note: Use a mandoline to achieve the thin potato slices.

olive oil
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
5 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced
6 large eggs, beaten until frothy

Warm 2 inches of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook, turning now and then, until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in an 11-inch oven-proof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chorizo and cook until the color is extracted, about 3 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and reserve the oil. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes with the vegetables and chorizo. Toss to distribute evenly. Pour over with beaten eggs. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Preheat broiler with rack in upper third of oven.

Add 1/4 cup reserved olive oil to pan. Warm over medium-high heat. Add potato mixture, spreading evenly in pan. Reduce heat to low and cook until mixture starts to form into one mass, about 8 minutes. Place pan under broiler for about 5 minutes to brown top. Let cool slightly before turning out onto a platter. Slice into wedges and serve warm. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.