Monday 21 September 2009

Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Spanish Tortilla

A few disclaimers:

  • This isn't a real Spanish tortilla. I repeat, this is NOT a REAL Spanish tortilla, normally an egg-potato-onion-salt concoction. I've gone off piste, but since it's my blog I'm stubbornly sticking to the name.
  • I made this a couple of weeks ago, before I went on holiday. I thought I set the blog post to release, but it didn't. So sorry for the lack of posting and lack of vacation announcement.
  • I ate this all, all by myself (though not in one sitting). Twas large, and I'm a pig, but the sign of a good dinner is that it didn't make me sick to eat all that.

Before going away for a couple of weeks, it seems a wise thing to clear out the kitchen of anything that won't last til you get back (or anything that will tempt creepy crawlies into your cupboards and make them flourish, as my family once did with an open box of Frosted Flakes and roughly 500 of the neighborhood's ants). Normally when I'm faced with a motley crew of vegetables, meats, and cheeses, I indulge myself in a guilty pleasure of a fried rice, using day-old take out rice and all of the above. With a bit of ketchup on the side, it's hangover food that you didn't have to be drunk the night before in order to enjoy.

An omlette, though, is an equally generous hold-all for food bits that need uniting. French omelettes, light and runny, and messily yet beautifully folded, don't seem to go well with chunky bits thrown into it too. An Italian fritata and a Spanish tortilla are similar in notion to each other, both being chunky wedges of egg wrapped around as many other things as you like. Both being thick, you have to find a way to cook both the bottom and top of the omlettes equally well, since if left to just simmer the will both burn on the bottom before cooking on the top. A fritata is finished off by being put under the grill, while a tortilla is flipped over so that the top becomes the bottom.

The trick of flipping a tortilla is one that seems to be passed down with the Spanish gene, and it's a very hard thing to pull off without the right combination of factors (including Spanish ancestry, it seems). I saw my first tortilla cooked by two Spanish friends working in tandem, and they both still had to hold their breaths when this 12 egg goliath was thrown onto a plate and then slid back into the pan. I worked on my own, with just hunger to carry me through the hair raising moment of El Flip. Working in my super-sticky frying pan, it was never going to turn out well. It fell to pieces like a house placed over the largest crack on the San Andreas fault, but I pushed it back together with the flat end of the spat
ula and continued cooking. There was no one to impress but me, and I already know most of my short comings.

I found the
advice from Fine Cooking was excellent (and it's the top Google hit for the 'spanish tortilla' search, so it must be good), but sadly I went and did my own thing despite the advice. Part of the joy of a tortilla (or fritata) comes the day after, when you can eat it cold or a bit warm, slapped into a generously buttered baguette. Another day-old comfort food that might not rank high for beauty but is in other ways a beautiful thing.
Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Spanish Tortilla
serves 3-4 for dinner

4 small potatoes (about 200g)
1 medium onion
3 inches of dried chorizo, sliced thinly and cut into quarters

1 pepper (red or green), cut into small cubes

1/4 C frozen peas

6 large eggs
1/4 C milk
several Tbs olive oil and a knob of butter

Peel and slice the potatoes, first in half and then into thin, evenly thick half moon shapes, then peel and dice the onion into small, uniformly-sized pieces.

Heat the oil and butter over a medium heat in a large, high-sided frying pan. Add enough oil so that the whole bottom is covered, plus a bit more.

Put the potatoes in when the oil is hot enough for them to begin sizzling. Cook for a few minutes until they're nicely softened, then add the onion.

Cook until the onion is softened, then add the chorizo, pepper and peas.
Cook for another few minutes until the pepper is softened and the chorizo has given off some of its oils. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, roughly beat the eggs together with the milk in a large bowl.
When the goods in the frying pan are all softened (but not cooked), spoon out with a slotted spoon (so that the oil stays in the pan) and add all the softened items to the eggs in the large bowl. Stir it all together roughly.

Make sure the frying pan still has enough oil to coat the bottom (if you feel it has too much to make you comfortable, spoon out a bit). Then, add the egg mixture to the pan and cook over a medium heat.

Continue cooking until the tortilla is only slightly runny and wobbly on the top, visible layer and you're sure it's all coming away from the sides easily. You'll now need to flip the tortilla, so you want to be sure it's solid enough to do so yet will still come away from the pan. (If you are fairly deft with your hands, you can do this on your own - otherwise, rope in a spare set to help you along.)

Find a plate larger than the frying pan, and hold it firmly over the top. Then, using one motion, turn the frying pan over so that the omlette comes away and lays on the plate.
Return the pan to the flame, and slide the tortilla back into the pan to cook for a further few minutes.

Serve however you like, with a slice of triumph on the side if you managed to do this all on your own.


Dewi said...

I actually like the name of this tortilla. Looks delicious and sounds delicious!

Jeanne said...

LOL - this is exactly what happens in my house pre-vacation! And often it is a version of tortilla, like this one! Sounds yummy :0

Anne said...

Love the name! I made a similar one the other week when the fridge only contained scraps and was suprised how good it tasted!