Tortilla española, or a Spanish omlete, is just about the most quintessential common Spanish fare. It can be found in the most grimy cervecería (bar) or upscale restaurant. History documents la tortilla española as dating back to the discovery of the Americas, although it was initially only made with eggs. In a letter from the conquistador Hernán Cortés to the emperor Carlos V, Cortés explains how the Aztecs sold omelets of cooked eggs in the markets of Tenochtitlan. The potato, native to South America, was later added to the recipe.
The most traditional recipe simply calls for eggs, olive oil, salt and potatoes, although just about any other ingredient may be added to make it one’s own. This is a classic preparation of tortilla española, as I learned it from my host mother or Señora, Cota.
Tortilla Española a la Cota: (Serves 2)
– 2 medium sized potatoes
– 1 medium sized onion
– 2 medium eggs
– lots of olive oil
– large and small pans, with cover
– medium bowl
– wooden spoon
– metal spoon with holes
- Peel potatoes and cut into thin slices width-wise; place into a bowl and mix with a little salt.
- Peel and cut onion into long slices.
- Pour about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of olive oil into the large pan on stove, with a medium level flame.
- When the oil is heated, slightly brown the onions, separating the slices using a wooden spoon. Tip: the oil is ready when you throw a little slice of onion in and bubbles form around it.
- Once the onions are slightly browned, add potatoes and stir often so the onions do not burn.
- Cook until potatoes soften and are semi-transparent; remove from heat.
- Beat eggs in the medium sized bowl.
- Using a metal spoon with holes, spoon out the onions and potatoes, draining them of the olive oil; place in a bowl with the beaten eggs, mixing well with a few dashes of salt.
- Using some of the olive oil leftover from the potatoes and onions, thoroughly coat the small pan.
- Pour the potato, onion and egg mixture into the small pan, forming it into the round shape of the pan with a fork.
- Check to see if the bottom of the tortilla is cooked; once cooked, using the top of a pan big enough to hold the tortilla, flip the tortilla over onto the top, place back into the small pan to finish frying.
- Serve warm with bread and add salt to taste.