27. L’s Spanish Omelette (Tortilla Española)

tortillaIn preparing for a dinner party (which has yet to happen; rescheduling was necessary), I made dinner for Husband as a chance to try a difficult trick. Any dinner that requires two frying pans used in tandem merits a trial run, I thought.

I was using a recipe-by-memory that I learned from my friend L. L and I met in college but became close while we were living abroad in Spain. She and I encouraged each other to go jogging more, to eat more chocolate, and to cry when things were difficult and lonely and new. I woke up next to her whenever the long metro ride back to my own apartment or to hers was too long after a late night talking and laughing. My last night in Spain, I slept in her apartment because I couldn’t handle thinking of heading back to the States where she wouldn’t be there. I have not had a closer friend since, to be honest, and while my new life is full of interesting and exciting elements of work and marriage, I miss her desperately.

We attempted all kinds of dishes, but because she was dating a Spaniard, she had access to some little-known secrets of Spanish cooking via his mother and grandmother that I could never have managed on my own. Tortilla, like pretty much all Spanish foods, doesn’t rely on fussy spices or exotic ingredients for its wonderful flavor; it’s just heat, quality eggs, chopped onions and potatoes, and as much olive oil as you want. The hardest part is keeping the tortilla from sticking to the pan and then also making sure that it flips well into the second pan. I do it over the sink, and don’t sweat it if things look a little messy afterwards.

I have eaten slices of firm-on-the-outside, soft-and-liquidy-on-the-inside tortilla in cafes all over Spain, but one evening with L we managed to make one turn out perfectly and we proudly served it to a friend who was visiting town and to my roommate. We were so proud, there in our little 5th-story living room, and I felt echoes of it as I flipped a tortilla in our kitchen. “What’s that?” Husband asked. I got to tell him a bit about Spain; he’s still learning about me and about my life there. Husband has never been out of the country (which I’m trying to remedy, but it may take some time) and when we were just friends I think he was in awe of the adventure that Spain was for me. Now, I think, he sees the ordinary-ness of it too: just a slice of thick, eggy goodness with enough olive oil to make you drool.

I used 6 eggs, one small onion, three small potatoes, and 3/4 cup olive oil, and it was a little too potato-ey in the pan I was using. My biggest advice is to slice the potatoes thin-thin and to cook them on their own for quite a while before you put the eggs in; while this may not be traditional, by cooking them through before I added the eggs I got the onion flavor deep in the potatoes and ensured against any crunchy starchy spots. If you’ve made tortilla, feel free to use the comments to share your tricks and tips. Never mind me while I scarf down some more.

14 comments on “27. L’s Spanish Omelette (Tortilla Española)

  1. Love me a good Spanish omelette. Thanks 🙏🏽

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Quarkybirdy says:

    That looks absolutely scrumptious!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You happen to post this when I am starving 🙂
    It looks absolutely delicious.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. allyia16 says:

    So the way I was taught (by my Spanish best friend and also my old Spanish girlfriend), is to fry the sliced potatoes and onions together until well floppy, then in a separate bowl you beat the eggs and salt to taste. You add the fried potatoes and onions to the bowl, mix everything well and then back into a hot pan with olive oil. When you smell the egg and potatoes cooking together it’s time to flip, using a plate. Comes out perfect every time 🙂 If you feel really lazy you can use potato chips- no joke!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve only made this once and I think cooking the potatoes a little prior will help. I remember eating many tortillas in Spain. My favorite memory was at a college party they’d give you a cup of beer and a slice for only 125 pesetas!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. badparentingweb says:

    Wonderful photo and very thoughtful advice. This is my first time reading your blog, so forgive me if this comment is irrelevant. However, my favorite part was linking this recipe to your fond memories of Spain and of your friend. I think that needs to be your angle when you write. Not that food isn’t human enough, but what’s the human element in each recipe. Great stuff! I look forward to more.

    My wife studied abroad in Spain and got absolutely sick of these things, so I rarely get to eat them. She also was served a lot of omelets with canned tuna… not super appetizing, at least to me.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Hi! I’m Spanish. We call it ‘tortilla de patatas’ here, because we make tortillas with other foods, too. What people normally use to flip it, is a plate, as big as the tortilla, maybe that makes things easier. You can see it here:

    It’s delicious!!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Antonio says:

    good hungry!
    best regards


  9. foodinbooks says:

    Yum! Loved to eat these when I lived in Pamplona! Lovely post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jheelam says:

    It tastes heavenly with khichdi ( Indian rice and lentils prep)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. RayKay57 says:

    I have an authentic put together for tortilla espanola on my blog (Mother in Law lives in Spain, & info from late Keith Floyd). It’s a ‘put together’ because we don’t know what size pan people are using so ‘put together’ is universal. I didn’t want to just link, but if you want it let me know. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. abimoran says:

    I am spaniard so I think I can help you a bit to improve the recipe. The most important thing is “You have to use a non sticky pan”. Also I always say the onion is the secret! Usually for a pan of 26cm of diameter I take 3 big potatoes and 2 big onions. Chop the onions, slice the potatos, you should cover them in olive oil (as a deep fry meal). These ingredients should cook well done, brown the onions and the potatoes!!!. Strain the ingredients, salt them and add the eggs. Mix everything together in a vowl. If you like a soft spanish omelette (liquid inside), the pan should be really hot and keep it on the fire just 2 minutes each side, otherwise it will be well done. I hope I helped you with my broken english!!! Enjoy your meal!!

    Liked by 1 person

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