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Simple, Carefully Fed Ingredients: How To Nail The Spanish Tortilla


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Name a dish that you can serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner; between bread or alone. A dish loved by kids, adults and celebrity chefs – hot or cold – and made with a handful of ingredients.

The pizza comes close (although a slice at sunrise has long been the preserve of those who wake up with a bottle of wine stuck to their head), but the Spanish Tortilla Española, known by some as the tortilla de patatas, is the wonderful dish in question.

On the surface, the Spanish frittata-like dish looks rustic and simple, certainly compared to its French counterpart. But like many modest meals of his elks, the ingredients and techniques must be perfect; there is nowhere to hide beyond this golden exterior and this spongy, slightly gooey center.

And when it comes to tortilla protocol, the Spanish stand at opposite ends of the arena: caramelized onion, or no onion at all? Should you salt the eggs? slimy or firm?

Despite the urban kitchen legend that pre-salting eggs hardens them or makes them runny, a handful of chefs swear by it, like MoVida’s Frank Camorra. His potato and onion tortilla recipe starts with the potatoes and onions salted together before they are slowly cooked. Camorra doesn’t like browning onions, but Simply Spanish from Melbourne subscribes to the caramelization process.

“We use one onion per tortilla and we like to caramelize it a bit to give the tortilla a bit of sweetness,” explains chef Stéphanie Trujillo.

The restaurant, which is the star of many stalls in Queen Vic and South Melbourne Markets as well as a standalone outlet on Bourke Street, is best known for representing Australia at the Valencia International Paella Competition (they recently won the coveted title of best paella outside Spain). , but Trujillo says their Spanish tortilla is their most popular tapas plate.

“Although it is a traditional dish typical of Spain, it has also arrived in Latin America – for breakfast, a snack or tapas. It’s something that’s intercultural, ”she says.

After cooking the potatoes (Desiree or Royal Blue are Trujillo’s choices) until they almost crumble but “not like mashed potatoes” and the onions are lightly caramelized, it is time to heat the olive oil.

“We use half a cup of good quality extra virgin Spanish olive oil, warmed in a pan, otherwise the tortilla will not be wet enough.”

Once hot, the oil is poured over the potato and onion mixture and seasoned generously (no pepper, just salt, warns Trujillo), and the frittata is left to cook slowly over low heat for about 20 minutes. minutes, or until edges start to dry at the top.

“Then we use a board or a flat plate to turn the tortilla over, because the eggs are still runny on top, so you need a flat surface,” says Trujillo. “In Spain they like the eggs that flow, but here sometimes people are not so into it.”

When the tortilla is firm but still shaking (about 10 minutes more), remove it from the heat, slice it and serve.

If this all sounds like too much work to you, there is another trend that has taken off in Spain, led by none other than the royalty of Catalan cuisine Ferran Adrià: potato chips.

Former World’s Best Chef suggests avoiding the process of peeling, slicing and boiling, swapping it with the package instead: 60g of good quality crisps coarsely broken and left to rest with two eggs beaten for five minutes.

Sure, that sounds lazy, but who are we to argue with royalty?

It wasn’t long before others, like Spanish-born DC chief José Andrés, embraced his mentor’s exchange, writing in his Tapas cookbook, “This dish proves that a good tortilla is just an egg, a potato, and the right frame of mind.”

Meanwhile, others took it up a notch by stuffing salt and vinegar crisps into the tortilla.

As for condiments, aioli, bravas sauce (spicy tomato with paprika) and a grill of Manchego cheese are all known to do the trick. But for purists, leaving it bare is preferable, so as not to interfere with the elemental and delicate magic created by three very ordinary ingredients.

More Spanish on the menu

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