In Spain, a tortilla is a very popular dish that has nothing in common with the tortillas that we have come to know here in the Americas. This classic dish is essentially a potato, onion and egg frittata and it makes a wonderful side dish for meat or fish of any kind. I made this tortilla last night and served it alongside roasted halibut with cherry tomatoes and garlic. It also makes a wonderful vegetarian meal, as it is full of protein-rich eggs.
For a classic Tortilla Española:
2.5# Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes, cut into even, 1/4” slices
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 large sweet onion, julienne
1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
8 large eggs
S & P
a handful of fresh herbs – chives, Italian parsley, or chervil would be nice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the sliced potatoes into a large pot of cold water seasoned with 2 Tbsp. of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, covered, and then remove the lid and continue to boil for 4-6 minutes or until the potatoes are just barely tender when pricked with a fork (the fork should go through, but the potato shouldn’t be so soft it could be mashed). Drain the potato slices in a colander and let them cool slightly. It is helpful to lay them out onto a sheet pan and let the steam escape more quickly.
Melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter in a wide, oven safe saute pan over medium heat (I think an 11-12” Scanpan is the bee’s knees for this recipe). Cook the onion, stirring regularly, for 8-10 minutes, or until the onion is nicely caramelized. Add in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper and then set aside to cool slightly.
Crack the eggs into a very large bowl and whisk, seasoning with salt and pepper as you would for scrambled eggs. Stir in the onion mixture and whatever fresh herbs you are using. Once they are cool enough to handle, gently add the potatoes to the mixture, tossing together with your hands to coat them and break up any potato slices that want to stick together.
Wipe out the wide saute pan that you used for the onions and preheat it over medium heat. Once hot, add the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter and let it melt and start to brown just slightly. Pour in the tortilla mixture all at once, spreading it out into a somewhat even layer in the pan. Sometimes you have to move a few potato slices around to make it work (see above photo for a general idea). Do not stir the mixture, but rather let the bottom of the tortilla brown thoroughly, undisturbed, for about 5 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to lift up the tortilla slightly and be sure it is nice and brown on the bottom and once it is, transfer to the middle rack of the oven to finish cooking. This will take anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your tortilla. The eggs should be fully set when the tortilla is done, but if you are unsure, make a small cut in the center of the tortilla and look for any runniness.
Remove the tortilla from the oven and let it cool for 15-20 minutes and then invert onto a large platter or cutting board (don’t forget that the pan will almost certainly still be hot). This can be a little daunting, so don’t hesitate to cut the tortilla into quarters and remove it in pieces if necessary. Slice into wedges and serve.