Saturday, 2 June 2012

Recipe: Simple Summer Supper (part two) - Tortilla Espanola

Untitled by oysterpots
{The absurdity of this post title has not escaped me - what a whopper! Luckily, this meal is epic enough to justify its name}

Spanish omelettes are a regular feature of our weekend lunches, mainly because they're quick, cheap, easy and utterly delicious. Just four ingredients and some seasoning are needed but the end result is something quite special. I love its simplicity, and how you can eat it as it comes, just with good bread, maybe a tomato salad, or as one of a number of dishes - either way, it's a hit.

Also, it's one the kids like too. My two are like Jack Sprat and his wife - what one loves the other hates. I'm unsure of how intentional this is, but very sure of how irritating it can be. However, in a rare example of synchronicity, where one eats only the egg and picks out the potato, the other claims to enjoy only the spuds. This makes me happy - they eat each other's leftovers, no waste, more for me.

Tortilla Espanola (serves 4-6, or more as part of a barbecue or picnic)

125ml olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-2cm dice
5 eggs
Salt and pepper

1. Heat the oil in a 25cm frying pan over a medium heat.
(Ours was non-stick once, but went in the dishwasher one too many times and is now temperamental. It doesn't seem to matter too much for this dish. Cast iron is also good, but whatever you choose make sure it's one you can put it under the grill.)
2. When the oil is warm, add the onions, stirring every so often to prevent them from sticking too much.
3. As soon as you start to notice the onions begin to brown - maybe five minutes or so - add the potatoes and give everything a good stir. Put a lid on the pan (doesn't have to be a matching one, just something that is around the right size that seals in the steam).
4. The potatoes need to cook for 15 minutes or so, but do keep an eye on them and give everything a good stir round every five minutes or so. The lid allows the spuds to steam while the bits on the bottom of the pan brown up - don't let anything burn. If it looks as though it's heading that way, remove from the heat for a bit, stir, stir, stir, and then return to a lower heat.
5. Test the potatoes with the end of a sharp knife. They're ready when the blade goes in easily and the potatoes are cooked but still firm. Try one if you're unsure - you don't want them mushy, but rather al dente.
6. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk them a bit with a fork. Add some salt. Now add some more. Double it. This is a crucial stage in the proceedings - you are only using a handful of ingredients, so the salt is absolutely necessary to bring out all four flavours. Too little and you will end up with a bland dish, and adding once cooked is not the same. Although it's difficult to estimate, I probably use somewhere between 1/2 and 1 tablespoon of salt. Don't tell the British Heart Foundation. Oh, and a few grinds of pepper won't hurt, either.
7. Pour the potatoes and onions into the bowl with the salty egg mixture. If your pan looks significantly dry, you might need a bit more oil at this point. NB I never said this was a diet meal.
8. Place the pan back on a lowish heat and when the oil's heated pour in your tortilla mixture, making sure the potatoes are evenly distributed.
9. Seal the tortilla for five minutes or so, before running a knife around the edge of the pan to check the colour on the bottom. This is another crucial stage. You need patience and a bit of a sixth sense - poking away at it before its cooked enough will leave you with a broken tortilla.
10. Once your tortilla is nicely coloured on the bottom, and beginning to set on the top, transfer to a pre-heated grill to brown the surface and finish cooking most of the egg. I like my tortilla a little runny still, unctuous and melty in the centre, but be sensible if you're feeding very young children, pregnant women, or the elderly.
11. Run a knife or spatula around as much of the surface touching the pan as you can reach. Slowly, slowly does it, as this will be your uppermost side and it's nice to keep it intact. Place a plate over the pan and quickly turn the tortilla.

Ta da! One Spanish omelette.
Part one (chargrilled veg with feta and mint) here, part three (rose and lemon sponge cake) here.

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