when i tell people that one of my favorite spanish foods is tortilla, they give me funny looks because they equate spain with mexico, and a “tortilla” with that thing that houses your burrito. let me let you in on a little secret i have learned since living in spain that will dispel any and all myths about the similarities between spain and mexico right here in this post: we americans are more mexican than spaniards will ever be. i mean, the only thing these two countries have in common is their language, and even THAT is kind of a stretch. for the most part, they’ve never heard of black beans. they pall at the thought of spicy foods. tacos are not a thing. i mean, the other day i had to explain just about every food item on the mexican food aisle to poor pilar as we walked through. talk about sensory overload!
the spanish tortilla was one of the first foods i ate here in spain…. after meatballs, but that is another story completely. tortilla is probably the only authentic spanish vegetarian food, so it is safe to say that we make it a LOT. at home, i have tried to recreate the tortilla a couple of times, but i kind of gave up when it didn’t taste like pilar’s, nor look anything like it. the other day when she told me to come learn how to do it for myself, i jumped at the chance! and here i am, writing down EXACTLY how a spanish lady makes her tortilla so i can recreate it when i head back home.
spanish tortilla a la pilar fernandez
a ton of olive oil
four potatoes, chopped into uniform rounds (use a mandoline to achieve perfection)
baking powder (optional, but good)
half an onion, chopped
1. start out by heating up your olive oil in a pan. and don’t be shy. pilar assured me that the key to the tortilla is a ton of olive oil, and i am a believer.
2. add in your potatoes and onion, mixing them around in the evoo until they’re all covered. let them cook about 20 minutes until they’re nice and soft. be sure to mix them every once in a while to prevent burned potato butts. (the worst!!) also, add a generous sprinkle of salt.3. while your potatoes are cooking, mix together your eggs with a good dash of salt and a good heaping tablespoon of baking powder.
4. when potatoes are done, strain them, reserving the olive oil. add your potato mixture to your egg mixture, making sure all the potatoes are covered with egg.
5. grease your heated pan with more oil. don’t be shy! really! you’re life will be much easier if it is well lubricated! throw in a couple tablespoons worth, swish it around, then pour the egg potato mixture into the heated pan.
6. smash the mixture into the pan lightly as to get rid of any air bubbles and let it cook for 4-5 minutes. periodically agitate the pan, and use a wooden spoon to unstick any parts that are sticking. (does that make sense? i can only thing of the words in spanish… despegarlo!)
6. when the egg is set at the bottom, cover the pan with a plate, or use your tortilla maker (need one!) in one fell swoop, flip the pan and plate, removing the pan so that the unset portion of the tortilla is on the plate.
8. grab a new plate, cover the pan with a plate, and flip the pan over again. remove it, and marvel at your beautiful tortilla! (and in my case, probably shed some happy tears.) ¡que disfruteis!