I first fell in love with tortilla española right here in Cuenca. Thanks to Cuenca’s ever growing population of expats, our opportunities to taste something exotic are expanding all the time. On just one small stretch of street in the center of town you have your pick of Colombian, Venezuelan, Italian, Peruvian, Cuban and Spanish food! These sweet little spots serve up authentic fare in quaint environments and give our small town a big international feel.
At one of my favorite spots that offers authentic Spanish dishes, I always order the same thing. Now you might be a little surprised to know just what it is…and I’m a little afraid to tell you. Just because this blog features healthy whole food recipes doesn’t mean that I don’t like to treat myself to something really indulgent every once in a while, especially when I go out to eat…you’ve been warned so here it goes. I always get a tortilla española sandwhich. It is essentially layers and layers of fried potatoes baked into a simple but delightful egg casserole which is accentuated by a high quality olive oil and (now comes the fun part) smothered in mayo on a rustic style roll. Wow, ok it’s out there, now I feel better. While this sandwich is an amazing once-in-while treat (especially alongside a glass of vino tinto), tortilla española on its own is really versatile and that’s why I love it. It’s a simple 5 ingredient recipe (and that’s counting the salt) that is fit to serve to company because it is just so elegant. It would rock a brunch buffet table but then again can be cut into squares and used as an appetizer or you can go the traditional route and serve it as part of a tapas menu.
Even though this recipe has very few ingredients, the process requires love and attention and that’s what makes the tortilla so special. The potatoes (I used Ecuador’s super chola but a red skinned potato can be substituted) and onions should be sliced very thin, with a mandoline slicer if possible, and while cooking they need to be watched closely so they don’t burn and are evenly cooked. If you don’t have a large skillet, then it will be necessary to cook the potatoes in batches. It’s also important to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil since it adds so much flavor and as always, I like to use sea salt for a more natural flavor and so many health benefits.
5 cups papa super chola (or red skin potatoes) sliced very thin with their skins on
1 cup red onion sliced very thin
6 large eggs
1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Now heat a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and allow to warm, distributing it evenly to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the sliced potato and onion to the pan. Use a spatula to flip and stir the potatoes and onions until they are thoroughly coated in olive oil. At this point the potatoes and onions will need constant attention. Keeping the heat on medium, and a very close eye on them, flip and stir the mixture regularly (not allowing it to sit more then one minute at a time) to ensure they are cooking evenly and not burning or sticking to the bottom. Salt the mixture as you go. I used two good pinches in between stirs (salt, stir, salt, stir) but it could have probably used just a bit more. Continue cooking the potatoes and onions this way for 15 minutes. Now try a couple of potatoes. You will know they are done when they are just cooked – flexible but crisp. They might need just a couple more minutes. Once they are done, flip the potato and onion mixture onto a paper towel lined cooking sheet or pan and blot off the extra oil. Now use those same paper towels to lightly grease a medim sized baking pan (I used a glass 31×20.5 cm/8×12 inch baking pan). Transfer the potatoes and onions to the baking pan, ensuring that they are evenly distributed. Now lightly wisk the eggs together with a pinch of salt and then pour the eggs over the potatoes and onions. Give the pan a little shake to even out the eggs. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.