Spain: Tortilla de Patatas

Or, more simply Potato Omelette.

I had this one earmarked from the start. I saw it and thought, now there’s a weekend lunch, or a quick and simple evening meal I can see going into my repertoire very nicely. The one in the book looks so very golden, crunchy and inviting. I knew I was going to love it.

The problem is, and my husband warns me of this a lot, it’s often impossible to replicate that look. Why? Because I’m not a food stylist. They have all sorts of tricks, including using hair spray, to get their food to look that good. So imagine my disappointment, when mine came out looking like this.

I mean, it looks fine, it’s just vastly different to the one in the book. Nevermind, it’s what it tastes like, more than how it looks, right?

As the recipe here will show you, there’s really nothing to this simple Spanish dish. Just four ingredients. Eggs, potatoes, salt, olive oil. A lot of olive oil! It has you thinly slice the spuds (I used pontiacs) and then fry them in a cup of olive oil. Thankfully you drain the lot off once they’re crisp and golden, and the recipe suggests you set the oil aside for use in later dishes, which I did. But I don’t think I ended up with a cup of oil to save, so that’s about 3/4 of a cup gone into those fried potatoes. Thankfully I cling to the Italian school of thought which says that olive oil is nectar of the Gods and therefore good for you. Maybe just not that much!

The fun, or not so fun thing, about this recipe, depending on your skill level and desire for excitement in the kitchen, is the flipping part. You cook the bottom of it in a large fry pan (I used a MASSIVE fry pan I own) and then put a plate over it, flip it out, then slide it back in to cook the other side. Sounds easy enough right? They make it look easy on tv!

There were a hair raising couple of minutes in my kitchen during which my husband and I tried to flip the enormous fry pan and enormous plate all without dropping or breaking anything. ‘Grab it!’ ‘No you grab it!’ ‘Hold it!’ ‘No I can’t! You hold it!’ All equipment and the omelette survived but my tip is to ignore the ‘use a large fry pan’ instruction in the menu and use a small- medium sized pan because it’ll be a lot less risky.

Also, the use of a large pan means you have a kind of big, floppy omelette and I rather prefer the idea of a smaller, more contained and somewhat deeper omelette.

This will go into my repertoire – I might find other ways to avoid using so much olive oil (Delly, when we discussed this, said baking the potatoes with some spray olive oil would be better – not quicker, but better and I’m inclined to agree) and I’ll serve it with a salad or some such next time too, to make it a more complete meal.



8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rose Red
    May 24, 2010 @ 13:07:57

    mmm, my MIL brought over a 4kg bag of spuds last week, I think a potato omelette will definitely be in my cooking future this week!

    Good tip on the frypan! Just thinking about mine, it would be very difficult to flip with one hand (even without the other holding a plate too!)


  2. Adele
    May 24, 2010 @ 13:10:16

    Fabulous post Bells!! Very informative and the visual in my mind of you and hubby standing in the kitchen shouting out commands with the omlette hovering over the plate is priceless. I will be making this for sure. I might cover it in tomato sauce as well. The African version of this was so similar and was divine with lots of sauce. Yummo!


  3. drkknits
    May 24, 2010 @ 13:22:34

    i reckon they cheated for that picture and cooked it like a frittata, like kept it in the pan and put it under the grill! look at those perfect edges on theirs! yours looks more like an omelette, and sounds delicious. i too got a laugh out of the image of you and S struggling over the flipping. and olive oil is so full of antioxidants that you probably just did your heart a big favour!


  4. Tessa Flood
    May 24, 2010 @ 15:35:23

    I know what I am having tonight! Thanks for the tip Bells…..


  5. ellymc
    May 25, 2010 @ 08:10:46

    When I was a teenager we had a Spanish couple stay on our farm for a few weeks, and she made this for dinner one night. I was very confused because I thought a tortilla was a flat bread! But this was….. amazing. It goes down as one of my best food experiences. I was particularly impressed that she made one big enough to feed about 15 people and flipped it like poetry in motion.


  6. ACTinglikeamama
    May 25, 2010 @ 15:15:01

    yummo! Don’t you hate how those food stylists make the food look so great? My cousin worked as a chef on a few Donna Hay books and the things they did to make the food look good!

    Anyway, my MIL makes this dish and my hubby pressured me to learn, I only fry the potatoes in a little olive oil (maybe one tablespoon? 2 at the most?) and I do so in a non-stick frypan which I don’t know if that helps or not? (certainly in the washing up it does!).

    Of late, I have also added some parmesan cheese or a tablespoon of yoghurt to the egg mix just to give it more taste (read: salt!).


  7. David Hilyard
    May 25, 2010 @ 20:34:51

    for the flipping: Some explaratory poking with a long narrow spatula helps, prior to the Big Flip. I bought a spatula – stainless, thin & flexible, c. 250 x 30 mm, specifically for jobs like this and frittata. And to use it properly, you need to get on your Big Pan. The secret is to have a special turn out plate that is big enuff. Dinner plates aren’t.

    re the pic: Looks good! More like real food than the original!

    re the oil: don’t sweat it! Also, this food is EXACTLY the kind of thing I would use some of the duck vindaloo decant on!


  8. terbyknits
    May 29, 2010 @ 11:55:32

    Wow. That looks delicious!


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