Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Little Cautious Bravado

"Dinner's going to be late, Honey... just pretend we're in Spain!". I add that last bit when dinner's going to be reeeaally late. Like the other night. But then, as I recall, we actually did eat like they do in Spain... I made Tortilla Española.

In case you're unfamiliar, a Tortilla Española (or Spanish Tortilla) is a tasty traditional dish of potatoes, eggs, and onions. It can be served hot, cold or room temp (love that). It's perfect for brunch, lunch, dinner, or as an appetizer (love that). Any occasion, any time of day, any time of year. And, yeah, the other night we ate it well past the hour when most American dinners are long since over. Well, as they say... más vale tarde que nunca!*

The only tricky bit about making a Tortilla Española is the inverting or flipping... that's where it can get dicey if you're not confident. Did I mention the sizzling skillet... centrifugal force... hot oil? Go ahead and shout "Olé!" after flipping it. Or, do like me and just exhale. You'll probably be holding your breath. The good news? It gets easier each time.

So, with a little caution, some bravado, and a big handful of salad greens on the side... you'll be amply rewarded with a tasty and easy meal. A meal that goes equally well with red or white wine, I might add, but in this heat, I think it's especially nice with a chilled rosé.

Tortilla Española
Adapted from: and: Saveur.

3/4 cup good olive oil
1 large vidalia onion
1 lb. red (or gold) skinned potatoes
6 large eggs
1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
a big pinch of sea salt
ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Peel the potatoes, then cut the potatoes and onions into quarters, and slice them thinly. (A food processor makes all that slicing a snap, but it's not essential). Toss the sliced potatoes and onions together.
  2. Preheat the oil in a 10" skillet on medium heat. When the skillet and oil are hot, VERY CAREFULLY add the potatoes and onions. THE OIL IS HOT AND CAN SPLASH OUT AND BURN YOU IF YOU'RE NOT CAREFUL! Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through but not browned. Use tongs to turn the mixture in the pan, making sure it's cooking evenly.
  3. Very carefully transfer the potatoes, onions, and oil to a colander that's set over a bowl. While they're draining, whisk the eggs thoroughly in a large bowl. Add the rosemary, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Fold the onions and potatoes into the eggs.
  4. Put the skillet back on the heat and add a tablespoon of the reserved cooking oil. Carefully add the potato/onion/egg mixture back into the skillet, spreading it out evenly and patting them down with a spatula. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom is nicely browned (check by lifting an edge with a fork or spatula).
  5. Run a spatula or knife around the edge of the tortilla and underneath to loosen if necessary. Place a large plate or platter upside down over the skillet and quickly, but carefully, invert them together.
  6. Place the skillet back on the heat and add another teaspoon or so of the reserved cooking oil. Slide the tortilla back into the skillet to cook the other side. Gently press down the edges if needed. Cook for 3-5 minutes or so, just until it's set in the center and a bit golden on the bottom.
  7. Remove the tortilla from the skillet by loosening it with the spatula all around and sliding it onto the platter. Or, if you're brave and have excellent inverting skills, go ahead and do the bit with the platter over the top of the skillet and flip the whole thing over that way.
  8. Let rest for a few minutes (or longer) before serving. Cut into wedges for meal portions, or into squares for appetizers.

Notes: I used a 10" cast iron skillet and the large burner on an electric stove. Your heat may need to be adjusted higher or lower. Just keep an eye on it and check it often so it doesn't burn. I used half olive oil and half sesame oil. I like to keep some of the salt out to sprinkle over the top before serving. Next time, I'm going to add some red bell pepper, I think it'll be a nice addition.

Extra Credit: Remember the extra oil that got drained off? It's all infused with onion-y flavor. Strain it through a coffee filter, then stick it in the fridge to use for cooking tomorrow's breakfast.

*Más vale tarde que nunca: Better late than not at all.
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  1. This answers 'what's for dinner' tomorrow night! Now for what wine and/beer would go with this?

  2. @SharkBait: Well, I don't think you can go too wrong with a sauvignon blanc, a rosé, or a "cool climate" zin (eg. Russian River Valley)... and of course, champagne goes with EVERYTHING! :) Let me know how it turns out!


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