10 steps to Tortilla heaven
and the way to a Spanish heart !
Serve warm straight off the frying pan ( yum yum ), or leave it in the fridge for a few days.
Slice, or cube it up when cold and it makes a great breakfast, snack or hors d’oeuvre too.
Ta-da… our first attempt and an amazing success, home-made, by Paul !
Tapas and Tortilla ( Spanish omelette) tasting are two of our favourite ways to pass time here in Spain. We find it hard to find tapas as great as in the North of Spain where the Tapas originated, but we do have a Tapas Thursday in our local capital city so we get to celebrate the very best there.
Tortilla however, is much more common, and you’ll find it everywhere. Some call it the national dish ( or is that paella ! ). You’ll see Spanish men in bars having a tranche, with a cortado coffee in the late morning. You’ll find it served in tapas bars, and even inside a Spanish bread roll as a sandwich ! I know you’re probably dropping your jaw at that but we’re used to a potato sandwich being a delicious thing since we started getting it at the main square in Marrakech. Later in the day , late afternoon / early evening, you’ll see it again perhaps as a pinchos served in chunks on a slice of bread… and finally it can come out again for dinner as a whole meal !
Haven’t you always wanted to serve one of these.
At a bar, café, or restaurant, it’s hard to get a bad tortilla. Home-made by the Spanish is the best ! Anyway, we became very judegy about the quality of our tortillas very quickly and found it so difficult to buy a good one, even if it was wrapped simply and looked homemade, on the deli counter at a supermarket. It has to be unctuously rich, thick, full (of potato, or whatever), and most of all it has to be nice and moist in the inside. We always wanted to try making one but really never thought we’d be able to make a great one ourselves… until Paul tried a recipe from seriouseats.com. We’ve adapted it, with tips, to show how it worked best for us.
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The secret to making your own is simple… and it involves lots of oil !
Before we do that, we should point out that we are using potatoes AND onions as the filling. It’s a bone of contention apparently, whether a classic Spanish tortilla should just have potatoes, or both. I have to say that we have only tasted potato filled OR onion ( cebolla) tortillas here in the Canaries. But this recipe for both together is even better, so we’re sticking with that. I have to say one of my favourite tortillas here on the island is the cebolla tortilla. Perhaps it’s the onions that makes it incredible, or is it all that oil you have to use.
First… the long, easy, but involved recipe !
Serves 2-4 people as a main, 4-6 for a starter:
It’s probably greedy to have half of this recipe each, but we do, maybe with a little crunchy iceberg lettuce. That’s a very filling meal for us, and we really never need the last slice so it’s perfect for 3 people, or 4 if you have a salad with it. It’s so yummy that we haven’t managed to be able to leave one in the fridge to cool yet. We’ll have to learn more about portion control !
Ingredients for the tortilla:
- 4 large eggs
- A good (Kosher) sea salt (flakes are better than crystals)
- 1 cup (237ml or 16 tablespoons ) extra-virgin olive oil (Use a good oil because the flavour will impart to the potatoes, but it doesn’t have to your best extra virgin oil, because you need lot !)
- 3/4 lbs (350g) waxy potatoes, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced crosswise. (Serious eats recommends Yukon Gold. We use the local Canarian / Spanish potatoes which are yellow on the outside and more waxy than floury on the inside.)
- 3/8 lbs (175g) yellow onions, thinly sliced
To cook it better, this is what you need
A chopping board
A very sharp knife for slicing
A Spatula or spoon for something for working the edges and
Measuring cups and bowls ( 1 large for potatoes and onion mix, 1 small for the eggs )
Very good NON STICK frying pans – Seriouseats recommends one large for cooking the potato/onion mix, one small / medium for the tortilla but actually Paul uses the same pan for both ( even it was a little full ! )
This is the one we use. Click through to see it on Amazon, or see the whole set we use and why, at the end of the page. You’ll find them in restaurant kitchens too. They’re real workhorse, don’t cost a fortune !
We have the smallest one of these commercial style chopping boards. Click through here to see it on Amazon. Also you can see the whole coloured set and stand at the bottom of this page.
These are Anolon (20 and 28cm / 8 & 11inches). You can get them from Circulon too – we have used either and would recommend both. Click through to see it on Amazon, or if you need more than a frying pan, see the set we use, at the end of this page.
Peel and cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Then, with the flat side on the cutting surface, slice the potato into pieces approximately 1/8-inch thick. Try to get them all the same thickness. If you slice them thick, it will just take longer to cook. If you slice too thinly they will stick together and not cook so well. Do the same with the half onion, lay the flat side on the board and slice into approx. 1/4 inch thick slices.
Combine the potatoes and onions in a bowl , season with salt, and mix with your hands.
Put a large, heavy, nonstick frying pan on to med – high heat, and heat 3/4 cup of the olive oil. Carefully add the potatoes and onions making sure they are spread evenly and that the oil is pretty much covering the potatoes.
While cooking, keep an eye on the heat as every cooker varies so you may need to work at medium heat so that it is just simmering here, not boiling hard so as not to burn the potatoes. You want them to cook till they’re tender but not brown or burn.
TIP: They’re ready when you poke a potato and it easily breaks in two.
When the potatoes are cooked, carefully take the mixture out of the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula that allows the oil to drain. Spread the mix out gently to let it cool.
TIP: Paul admits that he doesn’t always spread the mix out ! He just puts it back in the bowl and waits for it to cool. The point is to let the oil cool so that when you add the raw egg next, it doesn’t start to cook too early in the hot oil.
Crack your eggs into another bowl and beat or whisk them with a fork or hand blender. Then, pour the whisked eggs into the cooled potato and egg bowl. Carefully mix everything together with a large spoon, then let it rest for about 5mins.
TIP: I can’t remember where we heard it, but if you put the seasoning (the salt) in your egg now, rather than in the mixture in the pan, then it tastes better ! So we do it that way of course.
Pour a tablespoon of the remaining olive oil into a small, non-stick frying pan (ours was perfect at 9 inches / 23cm in diameter) and heat on medium heat. When it’s hot, give your potato/onion mixture a final stir, and pour it carefully into the pan. Make sure it’s spread out evenly. The egg will start cooking all around the edges. Work the sides to get your omelette into a nice tortilla shape. Once the sides start cooking, carefully lift up one side of the omelet to check if the egg has slightly browned. At this point, the inside of the mixture should not be cooked through, and the egg will still look loose and uncooked on top – that’s all good.
TIP: Seriouseats recommend this same size for twice the quantity but we found this size made the perfect thickness. (Maybe a super thick one would get the inside even more moist ? )
TIP: Be careful not to get the pan too hot so as not to burn the oil or the omelette.
When you see that the omelette has browned on the bottom, it’s time to turn it over ! Here’s what you do. Take the frying pan to a clear surface and place your largest plate over it ( it should be at least a few inches bigger than the pan and the upper part of the plate is facing the tortilla in the pan). Then with one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate, quickly turn the pan / plate over so that you now have the tortilla browned side up, served on the plate !
TIP: Paul recommends popping a little oil on the plate first … so that it will slide off easily.
Put your frying pan back on the stove / hob and put just enough of the remaining oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Let it warm up for about 30seconds. Now slide the omelette back into the frying pan, brown side up. This is why Paul says put a little oil on the plate – if you don’t it can be tricky sliding the omelette off again. Use your spatula ( by the way we use our can’t live without silicone scoopatula for everything ! ) Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Sneak a peek to see how well it is browning on the bottom, and when you’re satisfied, turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for a few more minutes. Then slide it off onto a plate, slice, and serve.
TIP: save the oil in a jar for your next tortilla making session, or use it for other cooking. It will be extra tasty so I use it when I want to use very little oil in a dish to make it, so that I maximise the flavour with the minimum oil.
You might be interested in these kitchen essentials we use
As promised, at the top of the page, this is the equipment we use and would happily recommend, and why. Enjoy browsing these too !
Boards we use
We love this set, but when we got them ( a very long time ago !) there were less colours available and no stand ! So we really wish we had the new set like this. Why? Because I love the colours for every different typs of food use, to avoid contamination.
Most of all though I wish I had the stand, so that I could keep them separated easily. Instead, I store the different colours in different places so that they don’t lie together.
Bowls we use
Actually it’s a bowl and measuring cup set. We have the multicoloured set but now they make many more subtle colours like this cool charcoal grey.
So useful, it has a 4.5 Litre mixing bowl, 3 Litre colander, 1.65 Litre sieve, 0.5 Litre mixing bowl, and five measuring cups. Also a handy non slip base and carry handles.
Knives we use
Nicely balanced knives. People look so hard and spend so much on knives, but there’s really no need for that. These are real workhorses and have never failed us.
You’ll also be glad to know they don’t cost a fortune either ! Paul discovered them first in the Raymond Blanc’s kitchens when he did some great cooking courses at Le Manoir aux Quatres. We love them, so much so that, like a ‘real’ chef, we have to bring them with us in our new simple life.
Pans we use
Every day pans from cook to chef ! We started with this set, and just added the wok style casserole pan and a small frying pan to our set. The glass lids are perfect to keep seeing how your food is cooking, and the little milk pan is so useful with it’s little lip.
We always used either Circulon & Anolon as they are from the same manufacturer. We love them. The Circulon sets are a little cheaper and meant to be more a cooks pan, and the Anolon a chefs pan.
This is the latest one we made. With spicy Spanish chorizo in it.