Let’s take a moment and close our eyes. Imagine that you are sitting on a plush white cloth couch. You lean back against the large pillows and look up at the crystal blue sky above. Not a single cloud in sight. Long sheer fabrics hang from a wooden canopy, blowing in the warm summer breeze. You take in a deep breath and smell all that is around you - the hot sand at your feet, the salty misty coming off the Mediterranean, fresh fruit, tortilla de patatas, and coffee.
This is not an imagination exercise. This is a very real account of a weekend that I had in Nerja, Spain while living abroad. Tortilla de patatas was a staple part of my time abroad, not just something I was able to enjoy while vacationing on the coast of the Mediterranean. Like paella, tortilla de patatas is considered to be a national dish of Spain. Back at home in Granada, my host mom, who happened to be only 29 and easy on the eyes, would stand in front of the stove making this for me and my two little brothers. This dish is so popular was available in the grocery store, prepared, packaged in plastic. Yes, I ate it. Yes, it was good. But naturally it paled in comparison to it’s homemade cousin.
While looking through photos from Spain a few weeks ago, I realized that I had not had this dish since I lived in Spain, about 6 years ago. I never learned how to make it while abroad, but after watching my host mom make it, I was confident that it would be a no brainer. I absolutely encourage you to give this recipe a try, but do know that it is not as easy as you may think. There is a little technique and finesse involved, all of which is perfected with practice..
I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen as a point of reference and recommend it as a great read. As I’ve said before, never be afraid to go with your gut and make changes of your own to recipes.
Tortilla de Patatas Serves 4
Ingredients: 3 medium to large Yukon Gold potatoes 1 medium onion 3/4 cup olive oil 6 extra-large eggs Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Peel potatoes and cut in half lengthwise, cut in half again, lengthwise. Thinly slice the quarters. The Peel and chop onion.
- Heat oil in an 8- to 10-inch skillet,over medium-high until very hot, about 3 minutes. Add potatoes and onions in even layers and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes, flipping and nudging potatoes around to ensure they cook evenly. Potatoes are done when they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. You should not be browning the potatoes.
- Transfer potatoes and onion to a colander set over a bowl and drain them. Retain roughly 2 tablespoons of used oil. Season potatoes and onion with salt and pepper and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Gently fold in drained potatoes and onions. If you have 10 minutes, definitely let them soak together for that long; it makes a difference in how well the finally tortilla stays together. If you’re in a rush, it’s not going to ruin the dish if you skip it.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the drained cooking oil back to the skillet over medium-high heat. Pour potato mixture into skillet and flatten the potatoes with a spatula until they’re mostly even. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, moving and shimmying the skillet and nudging the egg around (so it runs underneath) for a minute before letting the tortilla cook undisturbed until the top is wet but not very runny, and it is golden underneath.
- Loosen the tortilla with a spatula then slide it onto a large dinner plate. With your hands in potholders, invert the skillet over the plate, take a deep breath, and flip it back into the skillet. This step is a royal pain in the butt, just a friendly warning. I went to flip the tortilla just like I saw my host mom is Spain do and I froze. I imaged the tortilla flying everywhere. Don’t worry, practice makes perfect.
- Return the skillet to the stove and cook tortilla for another 2 to 4 minutes, depending how how done you prefer the eggs.
- Slide onto a plate and cut in wedges. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature, plain, or with added salt and pepper or even hot sauce (Pro tip: break the rules and go with Sriracha even though it’s clearly not Spanish).