Tortilla Española

This is a classic Spanish dish, and is delicious served hot or cold, at any time of day. Two recipes have been included below, the first is by Kelly Crull and the second by Lucy Peacock.

Tortilla española: Traditional method
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

400ml or 2 cups of olive oil (aceite de oliva)
4 medium-sized potatoes (patatas)
1 onion (cebolla) (optional)
5 eggs (huevos)
salt to taste (sal)

Pour the 425ml of oil into a medium-sized skillet. While the oil is warming to a medium heat, wash 4 potatoes and peel them.
Slice the potatoes very thinly.

When the oil is hot, add the potatoes. If you want to add onion, cut up the onion very finely and add to the skillet.

In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat together 5 eggs.

When the onion is tender, and the potatoes can be easily broken apart with a fork, scoop the potatoes and onions out of the oil with a slotted spoon and add to the beaten eggs.

Add salt generously and mix. Drain most of the oil from the skillet into a bowl (to use again next time!), leaving just enough oil to coat the skillet.

Pour the egg, potato and onion mixture back into the skillet. With a spoon, smooth over the mixture in the skillet.

After 2 minutes is the tricky part. You need to flip the tortilla mixture up-side-down. Find a plate that is of equal size or larger than the size of the skillet. Turn the plate up-side-down and cover the top of the skillet. Now, with one hand on the plate and one hand on the handle of the skillet, quickly flip the skillet up-side-down, allowing the tortilla mixture to fall onto the plate. Slide the tortilla mixture from the plate into the skillet.

Although you should only have to flip the tortilla once, you may have to repeat this process once or twice more as needed. You don't want to turn the tortilla brown, but you want the tortilla to hold together. It takes practice to learn when to flip the tortilla, especially if you are only going to flip it once.

When you flip the tortilla and return it to the skillet, use the spoon to reshape the tortilla. When the tortilla is more-or-less solid, get a clean serving plate, and slide the tortilla from the skillet onto the plate. Cut into wedges or squares.

There you have it. Tortilla Española!

¡Buen aproveche!

Tortilla Española: Cheat’s method
This is a recipe given to me by a Spanish friend who is always on a diet. It is quicker to cook than the traditional method and contains less olive oil.

Preparation time: 15-25 minutes
Servings: 4

4-10 tablespoons of olive oil
4 medium-sized potatoes
1 onion (optional)
5 eggs
salt to taste
1 clove garlic (optional)


Slice the potatoes thinly and chop the onion and garlic (if using).

Sweat the onions and garlic in some of the olive oil in a Spanish frying pan – that is, one with sloping sides rather than straight sides. Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a microwave-proof dish with 3 tablespoons of water, and 3 of olive oil. Put a lid on it and put it in the microwave for 6-8 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked.

In another dish, beat the eggs and add the salt – traditionally, Spanish omlettes are quite salty. Then add the cooked onions and potatoes and mix again. If you are not on a diet, add some more olive oil at this stage. Put a splash of oil in the frying pan and then add the whole lot.

It will take between 4 and 15 minutes to cook the first side depending on the size of the frying pan you are using. I prefer thick tortillas so tend to use a small pan. The thicker the omelette, the lower the heat you should use.

When the egg is almost set on top, slide a knife or fish-slice down the sides to loosen it, and then slide the whole thing out onto a plate. Put the frying pan over the top of the omelette and flip over to cook the other side.

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