24 July 2010

Spanish Tortilla

With World Cup fever at its peak and the Final match only hours away, I set to carving up a bowlful of potatoes two weeks ago (a belated post!) to prepare a Spanish themed treat to go with our Dutch beer -- I couldn't think of any Dutch food that would be easy to eat at a Football watching party anyway (herring?).

This method for preparing the ubiquitous, crowd pleasing Spanish tortilla was taught to me by my former roommate Maija, who is from Finland herself, but previously had a Spanish roommate (Carol) who taught her the method. It sounds a little scary at first when noting at the amount of oil involved and the instructions as I wrote them, "boil potatoes and onion in oil". Fear not, almost all of the oil is drained away from the potatoes and, if you like, can be kept for future tortillas, or I suppose other recipes that prominently feature potatoes or onions. Given the re-use of the oil, the recipe is also very budget friendly, and save the intimidating flip of the tortilla toward the end, the whole thing is pretty easy to prepare. 
Endnote: Highly belated congratulations Espana!

Spanish Tortilla
by Maija Hietala  
makes 1 9-inch tortilla
4 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and submerged in bowl of cold water
1 medium sized onion, yellow or red
3/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
3 eggs
salt, pepper, and paprika

Once potatoes are peeled, with a small paring knife begin cutting small (less than one inch) irregular wedges or "chips" off from the potato. The pieces should be thin and not to big, and irregular in size.
Peel and chop the onion into small pieces and toss in a large bowl with the potatoes. Place half of the oil into a small 9-inch, preferably non-stick frying pan. Carefully add the potatoes and onion, which should completely fill the pan up to the edges. Turn the heat on to low and carefully pour the remaining oil into the pan. Turn the heat up to medium -- once the oil begins bubbling it should look as though the potato and onion are boiling in the oil. This stage can be a little nerve wracking as the oil comes just up to the edge of the pan.  Leave to cook on medium (making sure it is not boiling too much to boil over the edge of the pan) for about 10 minutes. With a spatula, carefully scrape up the potatoes from the bottom of the pan, so in essence you are bringing the potatoes from the bottom to the top so that everything cooks evenly. Do this every 5 minutes or so -- in all the potatoes should cook about 25 minutes, bubbling away, until some of them begin to look golden at the edges.

Remove from heat and hold a spatula over the potatoes to drain away as much of the oil as possible in a large bowl. Save the oil for later.  Place the potatoes in a separate bowl, crack 3 eggs in and mix with a good amount of salt and pepper.  Put everything back in the same frying pan and cook on medium-high, 2-3 minutes, until edges are browned and the tortilla seems to have firmed up somewhat (try shaking the pan at this stage and the tortilla should all move together). Place a large plate on top of the frying pan, and with a heavy towel in hand, flip the pan over to bring the tortilla onto the plate. Slide the tortilla, uncooked side down, back into frying pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes. At this stage, it should slide easily out of the pan onto a plate.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes and cut into wedges to serve. 

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