Thursday, 15 January 2009

Tortilla Española

Last year I set out on a cycling trip across Spain following the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago De Compostela, a journey of 550 miles crossing two mountain ranges along the way. The journey completely changed the way I view Spain, for one thing, I discovered (the hard way) that Spain is not always hot and sunny! I also found that the culture of the people changed significantly as I moved around, and that each region is fiercely proud of it's identity.

Food of plays a major part in Spanish culture and each region has it's own specialities, from the fantastic fish dishes in the north to the world famous paella in the south. Of course each region claims their food is the best and most authentic! It was all very confusing for me as I don't speak a word of Spanish, choosing what to eat at restaurants usually meant pointing at the menu and hoping for the best!

If there was one dish that could be found anywhere, was always the same and always delicious it would have to be Tortilla Española. It's strange how the simplest of dishes can taste so good and Tortilla is certainly simple. Onions and potatoes are fried in olive oil to which beaten eggs are added and cooked into a thick omelet which can be cut into wedges. It is very good hot but is more commonly served cold either in cubes as tapas or in bigger slices as a meal on it's own.
I think the trick to making a good Tortilla is to cook everything slowly, I cooked the onions over a very gentle heat for a whole 4 hours until they were deliciously sweet and soft, it's not necessary to cook them that long but you definitely want to take it slow. Cooking the eggs gently is also important to ensure that they don't burn but become wonderfully golden.
Tortilla Española recipe (serves 4)

  • 2 Large onions chopped.
  • A large handful of New Potatoes. (you could use any other potatoes chopped)
  • 8 Medium eggs whisked.
  • Olive oil.
  • Optional extras such as peppers, mushrooms, Chorizo or ham could be added if you wish, I added a red pepper.
  1. First boil the potatoes until fully cooked, drain and chop into disks.
  2. In a large frying pan fry the onions gently until they are fully cooked and soft but not coloured, Add any extras now as well such as peppers.
  3. In a large bowl mix the onions and potatoes with the beaten eggs, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Wipe out the frying pan, add a splash more olive oil (make sure there's enough to stop the eggs sticking) and pour in the egg mixture.
  5. Fry very gently for about 10-15 minutes until it's cooked at least half way through.
  6. To finish your Tortilla you can attempt to flip it like the Spanish do or play it safe and cut the pan under the grill for 5 minutes to cook the top.
  7. You could eat you Tortilla now or leave until it's cold, either way it's delicious!


Joanna said...

That looks good, mmm. Four hours for the onions, brilliant, they are definitely tastier the slower you cook them - did you use a Le Creuset type pan? Or perhaps a heat diffuser?

So interesting to hear about your bike ride in Spain - how long did it take? Where did you stay? Do you have any photos?


Sylvie said...

Spanish tortilla is so good, and best of all it's economical and great to use up leftovers.

The Hungry Cyclist said...

man i love this recipe. so simple and such good cycling food. always nice with a little smoked paprika whisked in the egg!

will make some this week!

Sam said...

Joanna: I used a heavy stainless steel pan for the onions on a very very low light, no heat diffuser I just checked them every now and again to make sure they weren't burning!

The ride took us 9 days at a reasonably gentle pace then we had a few days at the end to look around and relax!

We were staying in refugios which are hard to describe because they are all different, but basically it's very cheap very basic accommodation for anyone travelling the pilgrimage route, they were often free and never more than €5 a night, sometimes with food too. They were fantastic, great fun and I met some really interesting people too!

I have loads of photos if you'd like to see them I can put them on flickr for, this site is great too Santiago De Compostela

Sylvie: You're right it's a great way to use up leftovers.

Tom: Smoked paprika is a great idea, I love that stuff!

Karen said...

Interesting post and a delicious dish. Sounds like your trip through Spain was delightful.

Hopie said...

I LOVE Spanish tortilla. So simple and yet so yummy. 4 hours for the onions! Wow. They must've been something. I like what cooking them slowly does to scrambled eggs too...

gastroanthropologist said...

I love how you take the time for the slow cook onions - they really are the best that way. I think in the winter I'd eat this warm, but in the summer cool is nice. All the tortillas I had in Spain were room temp...which at first seemed a little weird to me, but more appealing under the summer heat.

Spain seems like such a wonderful place for a serious bike ride (though I must admit a 9 day bike ride sounds very daunting!)

Beth said...

I've been to Santiago de Compostella - a long time ago on a school trip! Great dish

Foodycat said...

That looks so good, Sam! I am amazed by your patience - I couldn't cook onions for 4 hours, but I can just imagine how sweet they were!

Hayley said...

This looks incredible! I'm always looking for more egg recipes. Thanks for visiting my site, as it led me to yours, it's wonderful!

Pam said...

I love this recipe Sam. Simple is best.

I can't believe you rode your bike through Spain - good for you!

The Caked Crusader said...

I love Spanish food - those photos have got me salivating!

Amanda said...

Your tortilla looks fantastic--I'll be trying that out soon! And your trip through Spain sounds like a dream.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

One of my favourite things, and a great store cupboard standby. Looks great, Sam!

Selba said...

Wow... 4 hours to cook onions? that's interesting to know.

mikky said...

this is just perfect!!! :)