The traditional Tortilla Española, or Spanish Tortilla, got this name from its round shape, similar to a small torta (cake). A close relative of the Italian frittata and the French omelette, Spanish Tortilla is, in fact, an egg preparation with the addition of potatoes and onions and has nothing to do with its Mexican homonymous!
Many are the versions of the original recipe, but the most famous and the most traditional one is Tortilla de Patatas, or Tortilla with Potatoes.
Tortilla was a dish known for centuries by the farmers of the Navarra region in Northern Spain and, as the legend goes, the famous General Tomás de Zumalacárregui adapted the original recipe from his home town to feed the hungry soldiers of the Carlist armada.
The Tortilla de Patatas created by him proved to be a terrific source of energy…and the Spanish army is believed to have won many battles thanks to it!
Here’s the recipe for a medium-sized and very delicious Tortilla de Patatas!
Ingredients for 4 servings:
4 medium potatoes
4 large, free-range eggs
1 medium white onion
Spanish extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
Preparing the Ingredients
Peel the potatoes and cut them in thin slices.
Meanwhile, heat up 0.5 litre (1 pint) of Spanish extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet.
Cut the onion in half and chop it roughly.
If your potatoes are very wet, dry the excess water with a paper towel. Fry them in the hot oil. When they start goldening, add the chopped onion in the skillet and fry both vegetables a few minutes more. Total cooking time should be around 10-15 minutes.
Remember to mix the vegetables from time to time or the bottom ones may burn.
Don’t panic if the potato slices start breaking, it’s part of the preparation!
Remove onion and potatoes when nicely golden, drain, pat dry and generously salt.
Frying the Spanish Tortilla
Break the eggs into a big bowl, whisk a little bit and salt accordingly.
Add the fried onion and potatoes, mix everything together.
Heat up a non-stick pan, preferably with a thick bottom and tall edges (22-26cm or 8.6-10.2inch in diameter), and cover with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil.
The authentic recipe prescribes to use the same oil previously used to fry the potatoes and the onion: you’re very welcome to use fresh oil instead.
Pour the mix on the very hot pan, then lower down the flame and form the edges of your Spanish Tortilla with a rubber or wooden spatula.
Prepare a large plate, comfortably bigger than the circumference of the pan.
Once the eggs have almost thickened on the top (after 5-7 minutes), close the pan with your large plate, facing down, and turn the Tortilla upside down with a quick move.
Then, slide it back onto the pan and allow the other side to cook on medium flame.
Form the edges again with the spatula and cook further 3 to 5 minutes.
Turn the fire off, place the plate on the pan, flip the Tortilla upside down, once again, and the recipe is practically done!
The best way to have your authentic, 100% Spanish Tortilla de Patatas is to cut it into quarters and serve as a Tapa when it’s already cold, scantly sprinkled with chives.
P.S.: In times of strict dieting, weight watching and conscious healthy choices, it is a wise move to avoid frying. You may boil your potatoes and sauté the chopped onion on little oil, just to impart the necessary kick to the dish.
These simple modifications will allow you to enjoy a great Spanish Tortilla…without the extra fat and calories!