How to Make Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Tortilla)
Learning to make Tortilla de Patatas in Barcelona, Spain.
While renting a room in an AirBNB in Barcelona, my hosts taught me how to make tortilla de patatas (or, tortilla española, or Spanish Tortilla). Here is how we made them and a story of how the recipe came together for us…
How to make Tortilla de Patatas — Spanish Tortilla
Peel the potatoes. Three is a good number. The peeler may feel as if it’s for someone left handed and you’ll have to stroke upwards, towards yourself, close to your body, instead of the downwards motion you’re used to. But you’ll get the hang of it. Slowly. Slice the peeled potatoes into a deep bowl.
Slice half of an onion. And try not to cry. If you’re someone who is skilled with a knife, someone who might cook this every week, you do it with one hand over a bowl. If you’re not, you might use a cutting board instead, and still make the slices a little malformed.
Heat a thick layer of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Drink a little homemade wine while the oil gets hot. Even if you probably shouldn’t because you’re highly medicated from being sick with a cough. A little won’t hurt.
Add the onions into the pan and cook until soft. Stirring occasionally.
Add the potatoes and stir to coat in oil. Stir occasionally until the potatoes are soft. If you have cut the potatoes unevenly and a little too thick, like you probably did, you may wait a long time.
Meanwhile, crack three eggs into a bowl. Add salt and whisk with a fork until smooth. Set aside.
When the potatoes are cooked through (with some of them not quite enough and some of them just a little too much) turn off the heat. Scoop the potato and onion mixture out of the pan with a slotted spoon, draining excess oil. Put the mixture into the bowl of eggs. Repeat until all of the potatoes and onion are out of the pan. Stir to coat.
Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes. Drain the excess oil from the pan, leaving just enough to coat the bottom.
Meanwhile, make a salad, using whatever it is you have on hand. Mixed greens. An Avocado. Walnuts that need to be cracked open. Vinegar and olive oil. Salt.
Meanwhile, cut some bread and rub it generously with halved tomatoes. (A Catalan delicacy.)
Bring the sides to the table.
Heat the oiled pan over high heat.
Slowly pour the potato/onion/egg mixture into the pan. Let it cook for a few minutes until it begins to set. Loosen the sides with a wooden fork.
Top the pan with a slightly larger platter, quickly invert the mixture onto the plate. Slide the contents back into the pan, uncooked side down. Trying not to drip all over the kitchen.
Repeat, every few minutes. Watch as it doesn’t seem to be setting quite correctly. Watch as a little too much smoke comes from the bottom of the pan, telling you that it’s starting to burn.
Crack another egg, whisk it in a bowl, and add it to the pan in an effort to fill in the cracks and save the tortilla.
Repeat the process of flipping the egg mixture in the pan until the mixture is cooked through. A little burnt, maybe, but cooked through.
Enjoy your Tortilla de Patatas, you tortilla española, your Spanish tortilla, the salad, the bread, some jamon and cheese and bottled water at a table for three. Assure your AirBNB hosts that even though it may have burnt it’s the best tortilla de patatas you’ve ever had, and certainly the best you’ve ever helped to make. Which isn’t lying, though you’ve only had it a few other times at places where it was too dry and heavy or didn’t even include the onion.
And it’s something you’ve never made before, though something you’re now looking forward to taking back home with you to cook in your own kitchen, now that you have this tortilla española receta.