Week Night Yum Yum: Spanish Tortilla

Friday, June 22, 2012

This is a really easy go-to week night meal you can literally whip up in seconds, especially if you have leftover potatoes from the night before. If not, cooking them takes less than 10 minutes so it's still a very busy week night friendly meal, or a lovely easy brunch item.
Spanish tortilla is basically a classic tapas dish -- omelette layered with tender thinly sliced potatoes and delicately flavored with saffron. My version adds onions (the addition of onions and/or garlic varies by region in Spain), a little bit of nutty petit basque cheese which is phenomenal, and for a slightly smoky taste and nose -- a very, very light dusting of spanish pimento (aka paprika). I love serving it with a few slices of fresh, ripe tomatoes seasoned with a small sprinkling of sea salt.

It's simple, light, and perfect on a warmer busy night. This recipe serves 4-6 people.

Spanish Tortilla
8 eggs
1 cup's worth of cooked yukon gold potatoes, sliced thinly*
3/4 cup white onion, small dice
spanish olive oil
1/2 tsp saffron threads
salt and freshly ground black pepper
spanish pimento
1/4 cup shredded petit basque cheese
ripe tomatoes on the vine, sliced thick

Preheat oven to broil.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saute pan that is oven-proof (meaning, it's all metal because you will be placing it into the oven eventually). Add the onion and season lightly with some salt and pepper. Saute onion on medium-low heat, stirring often, about 7 minutes or until softened. Using a spatula, spread the onion out into one even layer, then add the potato slices in an even layer on top. Turn heat down to very low.

Very quickly whisk the eggs until light and a little thick and the color turns pale yellow. Immediately pour the egg mixture right on top of the onions and potatoes, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle the saffron threads on top. Turn the heat up under the pan to about medium-low, then using a spatula, gently move the outsides of the omelette inward (you'll find it will cook from the outside-in), and redistribute the middle back to the outside. Keep doing this to help the omlette cook evenly about 2 minutes, until you see the bottom is beginning to set. Smooth out the omelette on the top with the spatula, then sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.

Place the entire pan under the broiler for about 2-5 minutes (depending on the strength of your broiler) or until top is beginning to golden. Remove (use a glove!) and sprinkle a small dash of spanish pimento on top.

You can serve it straight out of the pan at the table, or gently turn the tortilla out onto a serving platter. If serving this way, I like to garnish the entire tortilla with a border of the sliced tomatoes sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and very lightly drizzled with some olive oil. Conversely, you can serve the tomatoes in their own serving platter similarly seasoned and dressed.

Tortilla can be served hot, warm, or even cold so this makes for a perfect breakfast entertaining dish to serve any guests.

*To make the potatoes, I love using yukon gold potatoes for this. They're less floury and more buttery, so they keep their consistency in the dish giving nice texture when you cut and bite into the tortilla. More floury potatoes like Russett can sort of disintigrate and leave a tasteless contribution to the dish, so try to use the yukon golds if you can. They range in size from tiny balls to larger-than-your-fist size. Because of that it's difficult for me to say "one or two potatoes;" I needed to write the recipe more as net worth after they're sliced and cooked. So...eyeball it. You'll use around 1 of these very large potatoes or 3-4 smaller balls to yield the 1 cup.

To cook, simply wash the potatoes and with the skin still on, slice them about 1/4" thick into little medallions. Then place them in a pot and fill it up with cold water. Add some salt and bring the potatoes to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium and simmer the potatoes until you can just stick a fork or knife in them and it goes through easily w/out resistance. This should take around or less than 10 minutes. Be careful not to over cook them or else they'll disitigrate into the omelette, and you really want to try to preserve their beautiful buttery texture. Drain them very well and then set aside until you're ready to use them. This is why any leftover boiled or roasted poatoes work great for this dish as well -- slice or cube them and then add into the omelette when you're ready!

Note that I do not use cream in this omelette. Most French-style omelettes add cream or a little milk to help them puff up. Frittatas certainly do because you want that puffed up almost pancake like fluffiness. A real Spanish tortilla should be actually rather dense and not airy. This is why you're just using eggs and using your arm strength to whip the fluffiness in by way of whisking!

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