Spanish tortilla – Jewish style
June 27, 2009
There is nothing really Jewish about this version of this classic Spanish dish, probably the greatest Iberian contribution to world cuisine, except that this is how I make it. It is not too far removed from the original so I don’t think too many Spaniards would turn their nose up at it…but I don’t slice the potatoes, I cut them into chunks (this makes the texture more interesting) and I shove it under a hot grill at the end, frittata-style.
This version is the most typical, plain, delicious and addictive. Made with eggs, potatoes, onion and garlic, once you’ve made it, you will not want to add any embellishments, although you do find versions with spinach or mushrooms – but the potato tortilla is the last word in tasty bites. Traditionally served in a slice as a tapa, my recipe will feed four relatively greedy people.
To do this correctly you MUST be prepared to use inordinate amounts of good olive oil. Tablespoons are useless. You must bathe the pan in olive oil because you are going to cut up your potatoes into fairly small chunks, not so small they are diced, and fry them in it. Depending on the size of the potatoes, use two very large or about five smallish.
The pan itself must not be too shallow or too big and of course, non stick. When the oil is hot, add about 20 grinds of fresh black pepper and add the cubed potatoes. While the potatoes are frying, chop up an onion and two or three large cloves of garlic. Spanish onions of course are deliciously sweet and I have used red onion before, which imparts a softer and more caramelised flavour.
Cook the potatoes until they start to brown slightly and lose their firmness. You want to add the onions and garlic just as the potatoes turn from hard to soft otherwise the onions will be overcooked and/or the potatoes undercooked. Adding the onions serves to speed up the softening of the potatoes in the pan and there is always an extra sizzle when you add them.
Use one egg person and if you’re not bothered about counting cholesterol, add one for the pan. Otherwise add a splash of milk or water to the beaten egg mix.
When the potato and onions are nicely softened, pour the egg mixture over them, tilt the pan and swirl the mixture so that it covers the whole pan. Let it cook for a minute and then run a spatula around the edges, tilting the pan if necessary.
At this stage, turn the grill on to its highest setting. Turn the heat down under your tortilla if necessary and keep tilting the pan to make sure the egg mixture is even. When the tortilla looks to be set underneath (use the spatula to lift it at one side), slide the pan under the grill until the top is firmed and golden brown.
Take your beautiful golden tortilla out from under the grill and allow it to sit and cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then lift it out into a wooden chopping board and allow to sit for a few minutes more. Tortilla is best served at room temperature, although it is also delicious straight from the fridge and splashed with some salt for breakfast.
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