Spanish Tortilla

Here is how I learned to make authentic Tortilla Española (aka: Spanish Tortilla, or “Truita amb Patatas” in the regional Catalan) at Catacurian, a lovely boutique cooking school outside of Barcelona, Spain.

Spanish Tortilla, Truit amb Patatas, tortilla espanola

First, here’s what you’ll need:

4 Yukon Gold or Russet Potatoes (peeled)
3 Large Eggs
Sea Salt
Olive Oil

Large saucepan
8″ non-stick omelet pan
Slotted spoon
Wooden spoon

Peel and "break" four large Yukon Gold potatoes
Peel and “break” four large Yukon Gold potatoes

Peel your potatoes and, instead of cutting them, break them into pieces by inserting the knife and snapping it upward. Try to break into consistently sized pieces as shown. Do the same with a medium onion (sweet white or yellow) – be really careful, it can be slippery! The breaking action does something magical to the starches. I can’t remember what, just trust me.

Combine potato and onion pieces in a bowl, add 1 Tbsp. sea salt (coarse or flake if you have it), and mix together. Set aside a few minutes until they begin to sweat. Meanwhile, heat one cup of olive oil to medium high in a large pan or cassola (a thick, low sided, earthenware pot). You don’t want it so hot that it will fry your potatoes, just hot enough to cook them through. Carefully slide your potato and onion mixture into the hot oil.

Potatoes and Onions cooking
Potatoes and onions boiling in olive oil

The potato mixture should be nearly covered in oil but it’s okay if the top pieces are uncovered. They’ll settle in once the potato starts to cook. Cook 12-15 minutes uncovered, stirring every 3-5 minutes until soft, but not mushy.When ready, onions will be transparent but not browned, potatoes soft enough to eat.

This mixture needs to be strained before adding the eggs. I use a large slotted spoon. You could also use a strainer.

While the mixture is cooling, whisk three large eggs. At this point, taste the potatoes and add salt if desired (the eggs will tone down the flavor a bit). Gently stir eggs into mixture.

Eggs mixed in
Eggs mixed in

Now put a splash of olive oil into an 8″ non-stick omelet pan and heat to medium. Pour in the mixture. Use a wooden spoon to spread it evenly, trying not to leave large gaps or air bubbles.

Eggs, potatoes and onions in panMixture in 8″ non-stick pan

Now comes the exciting part! You’ll flip the tortilla several times throughout the cooking process to give it a disc-like shape with a nice curved edge. This part takes some getting used to. I cook the tortilla 3-5 minutes on the first side, just long enough for the edges to set for flipping. The edge should be browned and hold its shape when you wiggle the pan. The insides will still be liquid, which is what makes this a little scary.

Getting ready for your first flip:

Start by turning the heat down on the burner. Place a round plate over the pan and grab the handle of the pan. Hold the plate tight against the pan with one hand and hold the pan handle with the other. Now take a deep breath and FLIP that mother!

Here’s the sequence:

flipping the panPlace a plate over the pan and hold it securely

flipping the pan over
Flip the pan over quickly

Now slide the tortilla back into the pan and use the wooden spoon to gently tuck the edges in. Turn the heat back up to medium and cook another five minutes. Once the bottom has set you will flip again, allowing the remaining liquids inside to fill any nooks and crannies.

Tuck in the sides
Use a spatula to tuck in the sides

You can flip the tortilla as many times as you like, or just let it cook through after the first flip. I usually give it three flips to allow the liquids to move around inside. The tortilla is done when you press the center with a spatula and get resistance. At this point, flip it one last time onto the plate.

FInished tortilla

I like to let the tortilla cool to room temperature before serving. You can reheat it anytime, or just eat it cold with your hands like a maniac. It is typically eaten plain but my Jewish heritage drives me to use sour cream or plain yogurt, latke-style.

Authentic tortilla is just eggs and potatoes, but it’s a great base to play with too. We’ve mixed in spinach, sauteed red bell pepper, and fresh rosemary and it’s worked out great.

If you decide to give this recipe a try I’d love to hear about it. Please share in the comments below!


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