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Tortilla de Patatas

Spanish

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#1 Jason Perlow

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Posted 22 February 2003 - 12:52 AM

One of my most favorite dishes in all of Spanish cuisine is the humble Tortilla de Patatas.

While we've had some valiant attempts at making authentic ones at home, I fail to be able to reproduce the kind of results we get at our favorite Spanish restaurants in the US and that I've had abroad. Sure, its a simple dish, but its not just the sum of its parts. Whenever we try it the eggs get overcooked, we seem to use too much olive oil, or the potatoes have the wrong texture. Or it tastes fine but the whole damn thing falls apart.

Theres a good (and really funny) multimedia web site called Mundo Tortilla which I discovered a few years back (and posted originally about on CH) thats dedicated to the humble dish, but it falls short on tips and techniques for the perfect tortiila.

Anybody?
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#2 thelastsupper

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Posted 22 February 2003 - 01:27 AM

The way that I learned how to make it is take a mess of onions and potatoes. Waxy Yukon Golds are a good match for Spanish potatoes used in tortilla. Russets don't taste right texturally, but they would be okay. Dice the onions. Peel the potatoes, cut the in half, then into sixths lengthwise (depending on the size of the potatoes). Then slice thinly.

Heat up quite a bit of olive oil and sautée the onions and potatoes until completely soft. Do not brown. (I always add a lot of chopped garlic to the pan as well, but many don't. It's not necessarily traditional, but it's damn good and you can find versions with garlic.)

Meanwhile crack the number of eggs that you want into a large bowl (Think omelets to determine how many eggs you want to use. I usually do a batch of twelve eggs. Also- you don't want more eggs than potato/onion mass, they should be approximately the same.). The eggs should be room temperature. The "technique" / secret is to add the sautéed mass (still warm) to the eggs and let them sit. I have known Spanish cooks who let the eggs sit (room temp) for hours. For the squeamish a half hour is probably fine to let the flavor of the onion (and garlic) permeate the eggs. Salt is the other important thing. Add more than you think. These things eat up a lot of salt and the Spanish palate is accustomed to more salt than Americans.

Heat a good amount of olive oil in a pan (you want the bottom of the pan to have a fairly generous coating). Heavy cast iron skillets would work well, but may be difficult to invert. Add the egg mixture to the hot oil. You can play with thicknesses here. Some prefer a very thick tortilla and some like them thinner. If your eggs are deep in the pan, you may want to toss the thing in the oven to set the middle. Otherwise, lift the sides to slip the uncooked egg underneath (sort of cheating for purists) and let cook on medium to medium low heat. When the middle is nearly set, set a plate on top of the pan and invert. Wipe the pan out, add more oil and slide the tortilla back in to finish cooking.

Remove and cool. Yum.

Sorry for the sloppy recipe. If something is unclear, just ask about it and I will try to clarify.

This brings back memories of a tortilla I had at Cal Pep in Barcelona this summer. It had chorizo and was still warm with cold aiolli ove the top. Surely one of the best things I've eaten.

#3 torakris

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Posted 22 February 2003 - 05:34 PM

This is one of my favorite foods as well!
I had tried many versions until I discovered the one by Deborah Madison in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone,
absolutely wonderful
She cooks the potatoes slowly in a 1/2 cup of olive oil until golden and almost crunchy. The most important thing I think is lots of olive oil and lots of salt, much more than you think would be normally used.

I have 2 friends from Spain who also recommended letting the mixture sit for 1/2 an hour or so to absorb the flavors and find this even deepens the flavor.

This is one of my most often requested potluck dishes.

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#4 blackduff

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 12:56 PM

My recipe is pretty simple. You take a few potatoes and slice them. Not dice and not cube but slice them about 1/8" thick. Slice up an onion or two and put that in with the potatoes in a large bowl.

In a heavy skillet, put a bit of oil in the bottom. Quite a bit, in fact. Then add the potato / onion mix. Make sure you have enough oil to cover. Cook until the potatoes are done but not turning color. I don't add salt at this stage.

When the potatoes have cooked, drain the oil from the pan into another container. Put the potatoes and onions into the big bowl again. Crack and whip a few eggs-depending on how many potatoes you have. Normally I would use about four eggs for a dinner plate size tortilla.

After whipping the eggs, put them in with the potato mixture. Place all of this back into the skillet with enough oil in the bottom to keep things from sticking. With a medium heat, start to cook the tortilla. If you want to make sure the tortilla sticks together, give it a stir from time to time, at this stage. If you would rather have it softer on the inside, don't stir the tortilla. It'll be moister but nice too. I like it both ways. You can add salt if you want after the egg has been added. I don't use salt myself.

When you think it's done about half way through, place a large dinner plate on the top of the skillet and rotate the skillet to let the tortilla slip out. Then slide it back from the plate so that the uncooked side is on the bottom. Let it cook until you think it's done and then serve it. This is best served warm, with a cold beer.

It's a simple recipe and shouldn't be overcomplicated.

Blackduff

#5 LESider

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 01:24 PM

After you've poured most of the oil of the potatoes into a container you may want to drain them a little bit . Then add to the egg. I think that this helps the egg adhere to the potato mixture and make a more solid tortilla.

#6 Jason Perlow

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 11:55 AM

After following the suggestions of our good members here, I think we have finally perfected the technique. Here are the results:

Posted Image

Posted Image

This particular tortilla has potatoes, onions, chopped serrano, chopped canned spanish peppers, and the eggs were infused with saffron. The indivdually plated serving is on top of a slice of toasted challah, with a shmear of mayonnaise and a garnish of canned Spanish pepper.
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#7 Lord Michael Lewis

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 12:28 PM

Looks great , but is it Tortilla de Patata?

In Spain there are popular competitions, in which each contestant is provided with the ingredients: Potatoes, Eggs, Salt & Oil, and the means with which to cook them. The tortillas are then judged by a panel of 'experts' who decide on a winner.

The most interesting part of this process is the wide variation there can be between tortillas when considering the relatively limited variables.

This, for me, is what cooking is all about.

#8 Jason Perlow

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 12:32 PM

Well, its certainly not the supertraditional "puro" one, no. I think its a legitimate tortilla within the confines of spanish flavors, though.
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#9 Jason Perlow

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 12:37 PM

heres another cool page (in Spanish, so use babelfish.altavista.com to translate it) with more technique.

http://www.alamesa.c...vatos/nov02.htm
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#10 torakris

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 01:50 PM

Jason, looks great!
I love the way that roasted peppers go with this type of fritatta, occasionally for a party I will serve it with a side of my balsamic-roasted pepper relish.

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#11 guajolote

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 01:54 PM

Good work Jason. Did you use a nonstick pan? That was the only thing I would add to the excellent advice above.


#12 Fat Guy

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 02:46 PM

The most interesting part of this process is the wide variation there can be between tortillas when considering the relatively limited variables.

So simple yet so complex.

This, for me, is what cooking is all about.


Yes.

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#13 Jason Perlow

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Posted 02 March 2003 - 03:02 PM

Good work Jason. Did you use a nonstick pan? That was the only thing I would add to the excellent advice above.

Yes, we used a nonstick for the actual tortilla-cooking part
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#14 thelastsupper

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Posted 03 March 2003 - 01:37 PM

Hooray. Looks fine, fine. Nonstick works but I have never needed it-- if it sticks, you haven't added enough olive oil.

In Spain there are popular competitions, in which each contestant is provided with the ingredients: Potatoes, Eggs, Salt & Oil, and the means with which to cook them. The tortillas are then judged by a panel of 'experts' who decide on a winner.

The most interesting part of this process is the wide variation there can be between tortillas when considering the relatively limited variables.


I ate in a restaurant in Barcelona that had a specific type of very old wood burning stoves (of only three left anywhere). The cook was the only one around who knew how to work the thing. He had a strange way of making his tortilla that involved throwing hot oil around the edge of the cooking eggs to set it more quickly. The finished product was much lighter in texture than others I've eaten, with a softer interior. I had a fantastic, smoky escalivada there also.

#15 Jaymes

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Posted 19 April 2003 - 01:11 PM

Don't know how I missed this thread -

Since visiting Spain, this has been one of my very favorite things to make, and I do so at least once a month.

When I first began making it here in the States, it was never so good. I have a Spaniard friend that told me it would never be so good because here in the U.S. we refrigerate eggs and in Spain they don't. According to her, it changes the flavor. (Should add here that I have no clue if any of those statements are true.)

So I found a local farm where they sell eggs, and boy did it make a difference.

Here's what I do:

Tortilla de Patata

2 lbs potatoes (I prefer baking potatoes)
1/2 C good-quality olive oil
1/4 C chopped onion
1 tsp salt
6 eggs

Peel and slice potatoes thinly.

Heat the oil in a skillet, over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and begin slowly turning in the oil.

After about 10-15 minutes, add onions and sprinkle with half the salt.

Continue to cook, turning and stirring, until potatoes are tender. Be very careful not to brown potatoes.

Beat eggs in large bowl. Add other half of salt.

Put the lid of the skillet on and hold it while you drain excess oil into a bowl or cup.

Pour the potatoes into the bowl with the eggs and stir to coat well.

Now - I take a clean, non-stick 10" skillet, and pour about half of the reserved oil into it (sometimes I have a hard time with the tortilla sticking in the skillet I've just used - so it works better for me to get a fresh one).

When the oil is warmed, pour in the egg & potato mixture.

Cook over low-medium heat until the tortilla is set. Don't let it get too brown on the bottom.

Place a dinner plate over the tortilla and invert it onto the plate. Pour a little more of the olive oil into the skillet and slip the tortilla back into the skillet to brown the reverse side.

Cook on this side for about 4-5 minutes until tortilla is nicely browned.

Slide tortilla out onto plate and drizzle with remaining oil and serve hot or cold.

#16 Bux

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Posted 19 April 2003 - 06:32 PM

Peel and slice potatoes thinly.

I've always thought the secret to a great tortilla as well as an authentic one, was thinly sliced potatoes (although I favor the waxier kind, rather than baking potatoes.) On our recent trip, I don't think we ate or saw a single tortilla that wasn't made with chunks or cubes of potatoes. Do I have memory failure, a creative memory that recalls what it wants or have things changed?

As for eggs, my son-in-law, a Frenchman who has cooked in Michelin three star restaurants in France and NY Times four star restaurants in NY, is a nut about sanitation and food freshness (we get that "how long has that been in your refrigerator" kind of stuff.) but he doesn't understand why Americans keep eggs refrigerated.
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#17 vserna

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Posted 20 April 2003 - 09:48 AM

I have a Spaniard friend that told me it would never be so good because here in the U.S. we refrigerate eggs and in Spain they don't.  According to her, it changes the flavor.  (Should add here that I have no clue if any of those statements are true.)

They're not, but they're fun. :rolleyes:

Also, one tidbit: even though there are many recipes (as with any tradicional dish in the world), and although I personally love tortilla de patatas made with onions, make a note that a purist's tortilla de patatas will never have anything but eggs and potatoes - no onions.
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#18 Marlene

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Posted 20 April 2003 - 10:13 AM

Here Jayme's recipe for Tortilla de Patata.
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#19 Steve Klc

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Posted 20 April 2003 - 10:27 AM

Lord Michael Lewis: "The most interesting part of this process is the wide variation there can be between tortillas when considering the relatively limited variables."

No surprise, at the Jaleo 10th Anniversary party the other night my friend Jose Andres served his version of "tortilla de patatas" in a martini glass, from the bottom up it consisted of:

onion "jam" or marmelade
drizzle of yolk, thickened slightly
potato espuma
drizzle of olive oil
fried potato cubes, very finely diced, brown and crispy
sprinkle of sea salt

So simple yet so complex.

Oh wait, someone else said that already.
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#20 Bux

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Posted 20 April 2003 - 01:03 PM

Oh wait, someone else said that already.

As I recall the gist of what was said, it was that if you push that through a tammis three times you'd have haute cuisine, or was it baby food. I forget.

I'd add chorizos. I'd add chorizos to almost any dish in Spain if I had the chance. They're just so much better than what you get here. It's the pork.
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#21 Moondog

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Posted 20 April 2003 - 01:13 PM

The tortilla trick: old potatoes; very, very little onion; not too much egg. Sliced potatoes, the thickness determined by individual taste.

Fry the patas in lots of good, pungent Spanish olive oil till tender. Use more salt than you probably are accustomed to - the last thing you want is a tortilla which the Spanish call "sosa" -- insipid, unsalted, tasteless.

Important: don't let the potatoes steam! Try to maintain a single layer of slices in the pan. Use two non-stick pans for the potato-frying sequence if making a large tortilla. I like to let some of the potatoes brown, even crisp up a little, but that's just me.

Remove the finished patas into a bowl and let cool for 2 minutes. Add the beaten egg -- 4 eggs for 2 lbs -- mix thoroughly. Let sit a further 2 minutes, then mix again. If some of the egg hasn't become entirely incorporated into the potatoes, pour it off.

Pour off the excess oil in the pan, then follow Jaymes' excellent instructions, but use a wooden spoon to sculpt and pack the walls of the tortilla as it fries in the pan. ¡ Ya Basta!

#22 Jason Perlow

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Posted 28 April 2003 - 12:40 PM

Tortilla de Patatas for lunch today, Italian style. Or should we call it

Fritatta Spagnolo Con Zafferano, Peperoni e Salsiccia?

Posted Image

Posted Image

Saffron infused eggs with caramelized onion, potato, Italian frying peppers, sweet and hot Italian sausage, and chopped green italian olives.
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#23 Craig Camp

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 04:20 AM

Yes they all look great, but what about the wines? Tortilla is the perfect excuse to drink the world's most ignored great wine - Sherry.

Fino and Manzanilla are perfect for this dish and of course tapas in general. For my money you can't beat these:
Lustau Fino Jarana
Lustau Fino Pureto Fino
La Gitana Manzanilla

Serve them chilled. These wines are pre-aged for you so you need to buy the freshest available. It is also important to finish the bottle quickly - once opened it will only keep for a few days. However this does not seem to be a problem for me. :wink:
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#24 Bux

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Posted 29 April 2003 - 10:26 AM

There's been some discussion elsewhere on why these wines taste better in Spain than here.

I've been dreaming chilled, sharp and flavorful manzanillos, but had one here in NY last night: Dismal. Maybe they change flavor when they leave Al Andalus?

We've been puzzling over the relative disappointment of manzanilla here in NY. The crispness of the manzanillas and finos in Spain reinforced that opinion. I've heard others say that all of the wines of Jerez, including manzanilla from next door Sanlucar de Barrameda are stale when sold in the US. As they're all fortified wines with high alcohol and the product of a solera, as well as non-vintage, I just don't see how they could go stale so quickly.

I've had some second thoughts on this issue. It seems that freshness is essential. Looking at a Spanish guide to Spanish wines, the comments I find under Consumo prefererente: for finos and manzanillas range from "at this moment," through "at this moment" and all the way to "right away."

Is it because the bottle itself is fresher, or because we're likely to find the bottle's been opened longer in the states?

Finos and manzanillas are wonderful with tapas, but we rarely think of them at the table. In Sanlucar de Barrameda, we ordered manzanilla by the bottle or half bottle, in a restaurant, to go with the various simplly prepared cold seafoods that made up the bulk of our meal, although we switched to white wine when the bottle ran out.
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#25 Craig Camp

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 09:31 AM

There's been some discussion elsewhere on why these wines taste better in Spain than here.

I've been dreaming chilled, sharp and flavorful manzanillos, but had one here in NY last night: Dismal. Maybe they change flavor when they leave Al Andalus?

We've been puzzling over the relative disappointment of manzanilla here in NY. The crispness of the manzanillas and finos in Spain reinforced that opinion. I've heard others say that all of the wines of Jerez, including manzanilla from next door Sanlucar de Barrameda are stale when sold in the US. As they're all fortified wines with high alcohol and the product of a solera, as well as non-vintage, I just don't see how they could go stale so quickly.

I've had some second thoughts on this issue. It seems that freshness is essential. Looking at a Spanish guide to Spanish wines, the comments I find under Consumo prefererente: for finos and manzanillas range from "at this moment," through "at this moment" and all the way to "right away."

Is it because the bottle itself is fresher, or because we're likely to find the bottle's been opened longer in the states?

Finos and manzanillas are wonderful with tapas, but we rarely think of them at the table. In Sanlucar de Barrameda, we ordered manzanilla by the bottle or half bottle, in a restaurant, to go with the various simplly prepared cold seafoods that made up the bulk of our meal, although we switched to white wine when the bottle ran out.

To successfully enjoy Fino and Mazanilla in the USA you have to be sure to buy from a retailer that sells a lot so the inventory is always turning. Also look for brands like Lustau and La Gitana that limit their customer's purchases so the supply is as fresh as possible. These delicate Sherry wines start declining the day they are bottled and should be consumed within 9 months of bottling.

True Manzanillas and Finos in top condition still have a fruity flavor that lets you enjoy them much as you would a normal white wine. Alcohol levels should be no higher than 15.5% which means they are just a little higher in alcohol than a rich California chardonnay. Some producers add more alcohol to stabilize the wine for longer shelf life but this destroys the character of the wine.

Try to purchase half bottles as once the bottle is opened the wine declines rapidly.
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#26 Bux

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 07:13 PM

I'm bringing this to the fore in response to a following post.

Sorry in advance if this is posted in the wrong forum, but my trip to SPAIN led to this craving...

Hoping someone could share some very authentic preparation recipes for the most basic of Tortilla Espanolas (Spanish Omelet)


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#27 Jaymes

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 08:44 AM

The current omelette flap ( :biggrin: ) reminded me of this thread, so thought I'd bump it up.

 

I mentioned in this thread that a Spaniard friend told me that in Spain, they use fresh eggs - not refrigerated, not pasteurized - so that's why our tortillas never taste exactly the same.  

 

So I had a friend with chickens, and I started using fresh eggs, and that made a huge difference.

 

I'm wondering if anyone else has any thoughts/experiences along those lines.







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