RECIPE: Tortilla Española [v]

This iconic Spanish omelette is an example of how a few humble ingredients can be elevated to something great through patience and technique.

Eggs 6 or 7
Onion one medium
Potato half a jumbo, one medium or 4/5 new
Garlic 4 cloves
Olive Oil

Mayonnaise to serve

Dice or slice the potatoes and parboil in a saucepan of salty water until you can pierce with a fork

Important: Meanwhile beat the eggs in a big mixing bowl with some salt and pepper. The amount of salt is one of the key points of the whole recipe. Too little is bland but too much ruins the whole thing so err on the side of caution, remembering that the potatoes are cooking in salted water.

Cut the onions into very thin slices and pierce the garlic cloves with a fork.

Pour a decent puddle of olive oil into a pan on a medium heat. Consider the size carefully. The pan should be big enough that all the ingredients fit but small enough that they come up to at least an inch above the pan bottom.

Fry the garlic until golden all over but not burned, remove and set aside.

Add the chopped onions and cook them in the same oil until they start to colour.

Add the parboiled potatoes to the frying pan and continue cooking until they are starting to get frazzled and the onion is soft and evenly browned.

Turn the heat right down.

Pour the cooked potato and onion into the egg bowl and mix.

Make sure your frying pan still has an even slick of oil all over and the heat is low.

Pour the whole mixture back into the frying pan.

Key stage: Using a wooden spatula carefully and patiently go aroung the pan edge while the egg cooks, scraping the cooked egg down from the sides of the pan until eventually a thick round patty starts to form with some uncooked egg and potatoes in the middle. This can take 20 mins to half an hour. The heat should be very low and if necessary you can move the pan so around that the underside cooks evenly.

Once you have a solid and perfectly round mass of egg (your tortilla) in the pan which is almost cooked through (it can still be slightly raw on top) you will need to make sure it is just about moving around when you shake the pan and won’t stick when you flip it over. Use a fish slice if you think it need detatching.

Remove the pan from the heat and place a small side plate inside the pan and over the tortilla, it should just about cover the area of the tortilla but not sit on the edges of the pan.

Tricky step: Carefully and firmly hold the plate towards the pan and in a single smooth movement flip the pan and plate over without letting go. The tortilla will now be raw side down on the plate. Please don’t burn yourself or drop the tortilla on the floor!

Slide the tortilla back into the pan and return to the low heat (hopefully not much egg/potato has stayed on the plate, if it has, return it to the pan and tuck it back underneath the tortilla).

Wash the eggy plate well or grab a different plate.

Once the tortilla is just about cooked through and lightly browned on both sides, flip back onto the plate and allow to cool completely.

With a fork mash the fried garlic cloves with some salt and a few drops of olive oil and add some mayonnaise.

The tortilla is traditionally served as a tapas, at room temperature and cut into secions or cubes. I like to serve it with the garlic mayonnaise and maybe a tomato and onion salad and some bread.