Tortilla, But Not What You’re Thinking

When I lived in Spain, I spent a sort of stupid amount of time trying to explain to the people I lived with that I didn’t eat meat (what kinds of meat? All kinds. Not chicken? No. Not fishes? No. Not pork? No. Well, surely you eat ham. Ham is a vegetable.). This really put a crimp in several of my relationships.

As it turns out, the Andalusian diet is not particularly vegetarian-friendly, so about three weeks in I reverted to my omnivorous state to avoid starving to death. In that time, however, I got a pretty great tour of the six-to-eight meat-free dishes in the  cuisine, some of which remain my favorites. Today, I bring you tortilla española.

This is actually not an omelet.

This is actually not an omelet.

No, it’s not beautiful, but you know, neither was Eleanor Roosevelt and we’re still able to come up with dozens of nice things to say about her. The same holds true for tortilla. It’s good hot, cold, and room temperature, keeps for a couple days, costs less than 50 cents a serving, and makes a great sandwich. If that isn’t the Eleanor Roosevelt of weeknight dinners, I don’t know what is.

This is the woman I lived with’s recipe, and it has four real ingredients and requires no odd equipment. Here is what you shall need to acquire:

No, I'm serious. That's it.

No, I’m serious. That’s it.

  • 6 large eggs (I accidentally bought medium eggs the other day, used 8, and it was fine)
  • 2 large russet potatoes (or 3-4 small ones), peeled
  • 1 medium onion
  • 12 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt to taste

Dump all the oil into a ten inch, non-stick skillet (trust me) and heat on medium until it shimmers. While it warms itself up, slice your onions thinly and quarter then slice your potatoes.

Does that makes sense? Cut it down before slicing it into thin slices.

Does that makes sense? Cut it down before slicing it into thin slices.

Put the onions and potatoes into the hot oil, and cook them down for about 20 minutes, turning and tossing every few minutes. Things should be soft and a little bit browned by then. While these are cooking, beat your eggs somewhere yonder.

See how my onion is a little transparent and the edges of the potatoes are slightly brown? No?

See how my onion is a little transparent and the edges of the potatoes are slightly brown? No?

So pull all that out and put it on a plate. I strongly recommend you do this with a slotted spoon or spatula. Pour the leftover oil into a heat-proof vessel of your choosing, leaving about a tablespoon in the pan.

Pour your eggs in.

No, I have no earthly idea why I took a picture of eggs for you, like you don't know what eggs in a frying pan should look like.

No, I have no earthly idea why I took a picture of eggs for you, like you don’t know what eggs in a frying pan should look like.

then QUICKLY QUICKLY QUICKLY put the potatoes and onions in them. Spread that whole mixture out evenly across the entirety of the eggs. It should look moderately flat.

Like so.

Like so.

Don’t touch it for 3-5 minutes so the bottom can set, then run a spatula around the edges to separate it from the pan. Dig the spatula in toward the middle a little bit, too, just so you can be sure everything is going to pull away at just the wrong moment. I don’t want to scare you, but you’re gonna be sunk if this part doesn’t work.

See how it pulls away and you can tell it's slightly done in the middle?

See how it pulls away and you can tell it’s slightly done in the middle?

Okay, you need to be brave. Be brave. Get a big dinner plate/platter/other circular thing about 10 inches across and firm and put it on top of the pan.

cooking 016

Breathe. Breathe.

Put a hot pad down on top, put your hand on top of said hot pad, then use your other hand to flip the whole thing over and onto the plate. It’s going to slide around a little and that’s okay; it’s a forgiving dish to look upon. Just get it all out in one piece.

See? It's highly mobile.

See? It’s highly mobile.

Now, again, still being brave, edge it back into the pan with a spatula so you can cook the other side. It should take about 3-5 minutes, then you can flip it out onto a plate using the method we just did or just by lifting it out with a spatula. Salt to taste.

Serve hot, cold, lukewarm, on a bun, on toothpicks as an appetizer…whatever.

Have you had this? Made it? What’s your tortilla-flipping advice? I feel like everyone has their own method. Tell me.

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3 responses to “Tortilla, But Not What You’re Thinking

  1. Can you come here and make that for me?

  2. It’s not pretty but neither was Eleanor Roosevelt is gonna be a Thing I Say real soon here

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