January 24, 2010

Spanish omelette

And now time for a "pincho de tortilla de patatas".

It's so simple, yet so nice...Like Ferrán Adrià often comments, whoever ever created the first omelette was a genius. It can be altered with so many ingredients, it can be cooked so many different ways...like a fritatta, an eggah, a japanese fine omelette...But definately one of my favourite omelettes, the one that I dont get tired of, is the traditional one with potatoes AND ONION (though I must admit a good bacalao omelette is also a pleasure to the palate!).

I emphasize onion because Spain is divided: those who like onion in the "tortilla" and those who don't. To me, it's a must! It's what gives it the magic, that sweet caramelised onion is what converts a nice omelette into a delicious one!That and, again to personal taste, that it's juicy!It is sadly more often than not overcooked in most bars and restaurants, so it looses all it's charm!

But there's not such thing as "the best" spanish omelette...There are thousands of ways to make a delicious omelette (here in Spain, there's a gastronomic guide named "Lo Mejor de la Gastronomía" that even tests for the best places around Spain in which to eat one. In some, you even need to order ahead to have it done!). So, probably each person has a favourite one. The recipe that follows is my last version of what I consider to be a good omelette, the one I think I'll stick with until I find better and it's like I've said before, JUICY and WITH ONION. Hope you like it!

Spanish omelette

(for two hungry people)

1 medium onion
3 medium potatoes
4 (M) eggs
pinch of salt
some olive oil for sauteeing the potatoes

Here is a picture so you get an idea of the sizes, since medium is a relative term!

First, cut the potatoes into small pieces with a pairing knife, look at the image below to know how I mean. And cut the onion into a fine julienne leaving a small piece aside. You see the small piece left on the right...save it for my mom's secret step!

Mix the cut potatoes and onion together in a bowl and salt them. Then add that to a wok-style pan that is big enough to let you sautée them heated with some olive oil to just cover the surface. I forgot to mention that most people fry the potatoes and onions is a generous amount of oil, closer to deep frying but at lower temperature. That's how I used to do it and the result is very good too. But I was a bit tired of using up so much oil and filtering and dirtying more pans. So I decided to try it this way and it's how I do it now. It's less messy plus LESS FAT!!!:-)

Now, cover the pan with a lid, just to keep the vapours in to cook the potato. I have induction that goes from 1-11, and I set it to about 8 sometimes 7 for this step. So, you want medium heat to let the potatoes cook through and get some golden colour on the outside and give time for the onion to caramelise. You should keep sauteeing it fairly often to let the potatoes brown evenly or else the ones at the bottom will darken too much and make something more like a rosti! It takes about 15 to 20 minutes. But rather be guided by the look of it and how soft your potato feels, it should end up looking like this:

While the potatoes and onion are cooking prepare the eggs. Put 2 of them into a bowl...and now MY SECRET (well actually my mom's, I learnt it from her and I wonder, never asked, if she learnt it from my grandma). This to me makes a great difference. I must admit that like I said before I like my omelette juicy...Well, it's half true. I like it VERY juicy, so juicy it's rather on the runny side. As you can imagine, it doesn't make for a great picture, so the one I cooked for you is juicy but to the liking of most people, I'm the unusual one! I'm saying this because being that the case, the onion blended into the eggs takes the eggy taste out, and to me it's delicious even raw! Yuk you must be thinking...But ever since I was small, I'd run to the kitchen when my mom was preparing spanish omelette to sink the just fried potatoes into the egg and onion mix and eat it!

So, the secret is that, to blend that little piece of onion you saved at the beginning into the two eggs (I use two because one isn't enough for the blender to completely desintegrate the onion and I like to add in the next just by fork as the blender froths it up). Then, you add in the other two and beat them in.

Keep the egg mix nearby so when your potatoes and onion are ready, you can add them directly into the bowl. Give it all a good mix, nevermind the potato breaks up, even better. Remember you added salt to the sautéed potato and onion so try it after well mixed before you add in salt, as it may not need any. So, adjust to taste.

Finally just left to cook it!

Heat a frying pan, I use a 20 cm diameter one for this, so with this recipe it's end up being about 2 fingers thick. But you adjust the saucepan depending on how thick you want your omelette to be. Obviously if you decide you want a fairly thick one, you ought to cook it for longer at lower heat. But always start heating up the pan very well, that way, there's less of a chance that it will stick, so when you decide to turn it, it stays in there and you end up with scrambled spanish omelette!

When the pan is hot, add a spoonful of olive oil and swirl it to make sure it coats the bottom. Now add in your mix. What I do is to keep swirling it as it cooking to 1) make sure it's not stuck and 2) to get a more even cooking. If your omelette is thick, you can cover the pan while you make this side and as soon as it's formed the bottom layer, you can lower the heat.

And now the tricky part to many: turn it! I prefer to use a flat lid that I have, with no rims, so it doesn't get stuck anywhere and slides softly into the pan as I return it. But any dish bigger than the frying pan will do. Though it's a bit trickier to be quick in the turn and make sure you have dry hands and a steady pulse so it doesn't slide and your omelette ends up on the floor. It's really not that complicated...but it happens!:-)

Et voilà there's your omelette...

See how juicy it is!

¡Que aproveche!


Anonymous said...

simply perfect.
fresh farm eggs,rustic potatoes and love.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be a spanish omelette for each spaniard,... but this one looks amazing. The right pan is essential to the success too!

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