Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelette)

by Karen on Friday, January 28, 2011

Post image for Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelette)

As an Angeleno, I've always thought of a tortilla as a canvas for all kinds of Mexican ingredients and foods.  It wasn't until recently that I discovered a tortilla in Spain was something entirely different.  A tortilla española is a sort of omelette typically made with potatoes and onions but can include anything from peppers to chorizo.  How such different foods got the same name I'm not sure, but I suppose the word tortilla was used to reference their similar shapes.

There are a couple of things tortilla española is infamous for:

1) the difficult flipping of the egg omelette and
2) the cups upon cups of olive oil used to make it

In this recipe, I've omitted the egg flip by using an oven to finish off the eggs.  As for the olive oil, I'm using a fraction of what is typically used in Spain, but I think it still yielded unctuously delicious eggs!

– 8 large eggs
– 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
– 2 medium waxy potatoes (like Yukon Gold) sliced into 1/6 inch thick disks
– 1/2 cup of olive oil
– salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 with the rack positioned to the highest level.  In a cast iron skillet (or any other skillet if you don't have one) heat the 1/2 cup of olive oil on medium heat and start lightly frying the slices of potatoes in batches so they're not crowded in your pan.  Cook for a couple minutes on each side until cooked through.  Make sure they don't turn brown or turn mushy.  Drain the potatoes in a colander.

Then sautee the sliced onions in the oil with a good pinch of salt for about 7-10 minutes so that they become soft and translucent.  Remove these and pour out all the left over oil except keep a couple tablespoon of the oil in the pan.  Layer down the onions in the pan and scatter the sliced cooked potatoes over.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add a hefty pinch of salt and some pepper.  Return the pan onto the stove on medium heat and pour the egg mixture over it.  Using a small fork or knife slightly lift the potatoes on all sides so the egg will run between the layers.

Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat and then transfer into the oven with the rack placed on the highest level.  Bake the eggs until they've set, about 8-10 minutes.

Let the tortilla rest and don't serve hot because it will fall apart.  This should be served in wedges and the more time it has to set the better it will be!



Valerie January 28, 2011 at 9:53 am

This was so delicious and I really learned something new with this dish… I had never heard of a Spanish tortilla and would never have imagined just what it was. Reminded me of a quiche and it was oh so yum! Love the pics. 🙂

deana@lostpastremembered January 28, 2011 at 10:09 am

That is one spectacular looking dish. i remember from restaurants that omelettes are best finished in the broiler and have done it that way for years… great to see the technique used her to such great advantage. I remember eating these in Spain… back then it didn’t occur to me it had been drowned in olive oil!

Belinda @zomppa January 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Using the oven to finish is perfect. What a delicious dish!! Can I get this for breakfast tomorrow??

Beauty & the Feast January 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm

This looks amazingly delicious! I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow.

Turkey's For Life January 29, 2011 at 3:32 am

I’ve always wondered the same thing re how the tortilla came to be called a tortilla. Quite odd that I’m reading this right now, just as my other half is making us a tortilla for lunch! 🙂 We always finish ours off under a low grill. Just no pint even going there in attempting to flip it. Leave that to the professionals.

Paula January 29, 2011 at 10:01 am

oh, this looks so delicious! I`m absolutely sure that`s really tasty!

Have a great time,

Tanvi January 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm

This is sort of hash browns and omelette in a pan for me.the difference being that the pototoes will not be brown and grated:)Looks totally yum.I didnt know of the same name of two totally different dishes.

i love my chloe January 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm

OH my goodness.. I shall not click on your site when I get up for breakfast… I had a day old slice of pizza.. but it was from a fresh bakery.. haha Gosh this looks utterly toothsome… nom nom nom. I hope you had a fabulous weekend !

Leti February 20, 2012 at 11:11 am

I’m spanish and as this is a very common dish here (I think the thing we miss the most when leaving home to live alone is our mother’s tortilla), I have to point that potatoes are never sliced into disks (in some restaurants may do it, but they have industrial kitchens), they are diced so you can fry them quicker and using less oil.
But anyway, I like to see how our recipes become more internacional.
You do a great job with this website!

Sandra June 4, 2012 at 11:41 am

you have to peel the potatoes! and cut them smaller!
when the potatoes are ready along with the onion.
Beaten eggs.
Mix well (the potatoes, onion and eggs) and do in the pan on both sides (helping with a lid). No oven!

A mom December 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm

“Tortilla” is just the diminutive of the word “torta” which just kind of generally means “cake.” It doesn’t really have any particular specific meaning at all, like if I said “loaf.” Just kind of a shape for a food to be in. So a tortilla is just a “little cake.” In Spain, a tortilla is usually short for “tortilla de patatas” which is the omelet dish you’re describing, and it’s kind of a national staple (“tortilla española”), so if you order one, it’s kind of assumed you want that kind. Tortillas like you see south of the United States are not common in Spain, so if you see them, they are specifically described as “tortillas de trigo” or “wheat tortillas.” Or the corn ones as “tortillas de maíz.” In Spanish supermarkets, the foods, sauces, and spices Americans typically associate with Mexico or Latin America in general are also in the “international” section! Spanish food is even less like Latin American food than most food in the United States is. Add anything even slightly spicy and you’ll see smoke coming out of any Spaniard’s ears!

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