Tortilla: In Spain, it means the classic egg-and-potato pie that shows up in every bar. Each one is slightly different, but all are delicious.
I’m not sure when I fell in love with the Spanish tortilla, but by the time I went to Barcelona in 2004, I was already hooked. The hotel included it in the breakfast buffet. I ate it every single day. When I was planning to walk the Camino de Santiago, one of the things I most looked forward to was the opportunity to enjoy as many types of tortilla as I could. I was not disappointed.
I can’t pass up a slice of tortilla. Each bar has one or two fresh each morning, bonne femme style. Completely homemade and clearly the family favorite of the person who made it. (Probably the barkeeper’s wife, since she’s usually in the tiny kitchen preparing all the food. But I don’t like to make sweeping generalizations.) Delicious, filling, and sturdy. You can wrap it up and plunk it in your backpack for a snack. With a cafe con leche, it’s a power breakfast. It’s an on-the-go lunch. By afternoons, many places have sold out, but if not, it is a nutritious way to fill up before the late dinner.
Make it at home!
One of the fun things about travel is discovering a favorite food, then figuring out how to make it at home. Even if it’s not quite the same–and it’s never the same–we can still capture the memory.
Here’s a very good recipe for Spanish Tortilla (Tortilla Espanola) that makes me want to hop on a plane get back to the home of this all-day comfort food:
1/2 cup olive oil, divided (Set aside 4 Tablespoons)
4 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/8-inch thick
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
6 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk or half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional: red and/or green peppers, finely chopped
Variation: Boil the potatoes ahead of time. Cool, then slice after the onions are cooked.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. (A non-stick skillet works, too.) Reduce the heat to medium and add the potato slices a few at a time so they don’t stick together. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and the onions are golden but not brown, about 10 minutes. Place a strainer over a bowl in and transfer the potatoes and onions to drain; reserve the oil.
Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Drain excess oil off of the potato mixture, then add the potatoes and onions to the egg mixture and combine until everything is well mixed. Set the bowl aside for about 15 minutes to let the potatoes release some of their starches into the eggs.
Heat 3 Tablespoons of the reserved olive oil in the cast-iron skillet over medium-high for 1 minute. Add the egg-potato mixture, rotating the skillet in a circular motion to distribute it evenly. Lower the heat to medium-low and shake the pan a few times to prevent sticking (by shaking the pan, you ensure that the eggs and potatoes release from the pan bottom).
Cook the tortilla for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes on the bottom start to turn golden brown. Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until almost set. Remove from the oven and place a large flat plate on top of the skillet and invert the skillet. The tortilla should come right out. Add a tablespoon of the reserved olive oil to the skillet and slide the tortilla back in to cook the other side until it is golden-brown, about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat off and set the skillet aside until the tortilla cools to room temperature. Transfer the tortilla to a plate. Cut into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a hunk of crusty bread.