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Thursday, July 05, 2007

More Thoughts on the Tortilla de Patatas

I have my own way of making a tortilla de patatas that involves a lot less oil and is much easier than the traditional method. Most Spanish recipes call for cooking the peeled potatoes in a lot of olive oil without browning them. This takes a lot of oil and a lot of time. You almost have to deep-fry the potatoes. I cook my potatoes ahead of time, either in boiling water or in the oven if I am cooking something else that requires the oven. I then take the peeled, almost-completely-cooked potatoes and sauté them in just a bit of olive oil. They will have a consistency close to mashed potatoes. I add this mixture to the beaten eggs in a bowl to blend.

The trick (or one of them at least) is that you need the right size pan for the amount of eggs you are using. I use an eight inch, non-stick sauté pan that works for tortillas with 4-6 eggs. You need to cook the tortilla at a very low temperature so that the bottom doesn’t burn. I cover the pan which I think helps to firm up the top of the tortilla and makes flipping it a little easier. To flip it, cover the pan with a plate and hold the bottom of the plate and turn the skillet upside down. Slide the tortilla back into the pan with the uncooked side down. Reshape it with a spatula. I flip it three times so that it cooks twice on both sides. Whichever side looks the best I leave up for serving.

This simple Spanish dish can be found almost everywhere. It is a popular item on sandwiches. It also fairly screams out for improvisation—something that is frowned upon in most Spanish cooking. The Spanish are never more traditional than they are when it comes to food. As much as I love a traditional tortilla de patatas, I would love to see a clever innovation to this dish. I think the best way to achieve that might be an accompanying dish.

I prefer to eat this dish after it has cooled so this may dictate what would make a good side dish.

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