I have never had the pleasure of actually traveling to Spain, but I have been lucky enough to be blessed with a sister-in-law that comes from Salamanca who knows a thing or two about tapas. Having her around has afforded me a glimpse into a food culture that I otherwise probably would have never known so I am ever grateful for what she has taught me. One of my favorite things that she has introduced us to is Tortilla De Patata – a simple little potato omelette that is a beautiful little dish all by itself or a wonderful base for further artistic culinary expression.
At its simplest form, this is just eggs and potatoes sautéed into a small pancake form. Light and airy between layers with a slightly browned, barely crisp exterior. From there, the imagination can wander to include onions, roasted red peppers, pimentos, or spices like smoked paprika. And then the toppings debate can ensue – apparently, hot sauce is not approved of by the Spaniards. Mayonnaise seems to be the traditional approach, but I am a sucker for some Tapatio.
Tortilla De Patata (aka Spanish Omelette) Recipe
There are no quantities listed in the ingredients because I always eyeball this one depending on the size of the potatoes and how hungry I am. That, and I have never bothered to make just one omelet. The ratio is about 1 potato to 1 egg and ¼ of a small onion. I have seen recipes where it calls for CUPS of olive oil, but I try not to use so much because I am cheap healthy.
To make things organized, I start by putting one large bowl aside with cold water to keep my sliced potatoes in while I am cooking each batch. Another bowl I crack the eggs into. And two additional large empty bowls to rest the potatoes as they come off the burner and then mix them with eggs. I use one large frying pan to mass cook the potatoes and onions, and then one small frying pan to actually make the omelets.
After you get all that set up, start by peeling and then slicing the potatoes very thin, placing them in the water so they do not turn brown. Slice the onions in thin half-moons. Over low-med, heat the large frying pan with enough oil to cover the bottom and then a little more. Add as many potatoes to the pan to cover the bottom (dry them first) along with about ¼ of the onion. Sauté these on low-med for about 10-15 minutes. You want them to become soft, but not brown. When a potato slice is easily broken by a press of a spatula, but not yet mushy, they are done. Remove them to the empty bowl you have set out and let them cool for 5 minutes.
While they are cooling, you can add the next batch of potatoes to the large frying pan. Also, whip your eggs so they are prepared to add to the first batch that is cooling.
After the first batch is cool enough so they will not scramble the eggs, using a slotted spoon so that you leave some of the olive oil behind, transfer a portion of the potatoes/onions to the other empty reserved bowl. Your portion quantity should be appropriate for the size of the omelet you will make (depends on the pan you chose). For me, it is about 1.5 ladles worth. I then add about 1 ladles worth of egg to the potato/onion, mix well, and then pour into the small frying pan that is preheated on med heat with about 1 tbsp of olive oil. Using a spatula, mix everything around so that the ingredients are evenly distributed and let the omelet set & brown. After about 3 minutes, I put a plate over the pan, let it set for about a minute, then flip the omelet onto the plate and slide it back into the pan to brown the other side.
The resulting omelet should be firm throughout and lightly browned on both sides. Once done, slide onto a clean plate and set aside. Repeat.