No matter how you slice it, the Tortilla Española may be the single most eaten dish in Spain. And, like similar comfort foods, almost every region has its own recipe but they all start with the main ingredients of eggs and starchy potatoes and it is often called the tortilla de patatas. Often confused, the tortilla appears more as a dense and moist cake than a fluffy omelette.
Also like any good dish, this one comes with an origin story. Some say that it originated in Pamplona amongst the poor of Pamplona who extended two or three eggs by mixing them with potatoes and bread to feed up to six people, as recounted in a letter from 1817 sent to the Cortes de Navarra. Others believe that the Carlist General Thomas Zumalacárregui invented it on the field of battle as an easy, economical and nutritious way to literally feed an army. And yet a third story has emerged attributing the staple dish not to the General but to a lowly farm wife who created it on the spot for him with the scarce ingredients she had in her larder; the office liked it so much that he introduced it into the meager diet of his men and the tortilla’s popularity spread from there.
First the sliced or diced potatoes are fried in a generous quantity of good olive oil until they are soft but not brown, and onion might also be sautéed with the potatoes, then everything is removed to a bowl and any excess oil is drained off. In a separate bowl, two or three eggs are beaten and salted and then added to the potatoes. A little bit of olive oil is heated in the pan and the egg – potato mixture is added. First one side is fried, then the tortilla is flipped over to fry the other side. Over the years other ingredients like red peppers, eggplant, chorizo and ham have been added to the mix to create a savory delicacy. The tortilla should be thick and moist and can be served hot or cold, in triangular slices or cubes – and is most often accompanied by hearty bread.
Mmmm – delicioso!
(pictures by koshercamembert)