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Spanish Potato Tortilla (Tortilla Española)

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Serves four as a main course; twelve as a tapa.

If you have a mandoline, this would be a great time to use it.

  • 1-3/4 cups vegetable oil for frying (I use plain olive oil, but never a great extra-virgin)
  • 1-3/4 lb. (about 5 medium) low- to medium-starch potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled
  • 2-1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 12 to 14 oz. onions (2 to 3 medium), diced
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, very coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (optional)

In a 10-1/2-inch nonstick skillet that's at least 1-1/2 inches deep, heat the oil on medium high. While the oil is heating, slice the potatoes thinly, about 1/8 inch. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle on 2 tsp. of the salt, tossing to distribute it well.

When the oil is very hot (a potato slice will sizzle vigorously around the edges without browning), gently slip the potatoes into the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon. Fry the potatoes, turning occasionally (trying not to break them) and adjusting the heat so they sizzle but don't crisp or brown. Set a sieve over a bowl or else line a plate with paper towels. When the potatoes are tender, after 10 to 12 minutes, transfer them with the skimmer to the sieve or lined plate.

Add the onions and garlic (if using) to the pan. Fry, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and translucent but not browned (you might need to lower the heat), 7 to 9 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and, using the skimmer, transfer the onions and garlic to the sieve or plate with the potatoes. Drain the oil from the skillet, reserving at least 1 Tbs. (strain the rest and reserve to use again, if you like) and wipe out the pan with a paper towel so it's clean. Scrape out any stuck-on bits, if necessary.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, 1/4 tsp. salt, and the pepper (if using) with a fork until blended. Add the drained potatoes, onions, and garlic and mix gently to combine with the egg, trying not to break the potatoes (some will anyway).

Heat the skillet on medium high. Add the 1 Tbs. reserved oil. Let the pan and oil get very hot (important so the eggs don't stick), and then pour in the potato and egg mixture, spreading it evenly. Cook for 1 minute and then lower the heat to medium low, cooking until the eggs are completely set at the edges, halfway set in the center, and the tortilla easily slips around in the pan when you give it a shake, 8 to 10 minutes. You may need to nudge the tortilla loose with a knife or spatula.

Set a flat, rimless plate that's at least as wide as the skillet upside down over the pan. Lift the skillet off the burner and, with one hand against the plate and the other holding the skillet's handle, invert the skillet so the tortilla lands on the plate (it should fall right out). (See How to do the flip for photos of this process.) Set the pan back on the heat and slide the tortilla into it, using the skimmer to push any stray potatoes back in under the eggs as the tortilla slides off the plate. Once the tortilla is back in the pan, tuck the edges in and under itself (to neaten the sides). Cook until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, hot, and with no uncooked egg on it, another 5 to 6 minutes.

Transfer the tortilla to a serving platter and let cool at least 10 minutes. Serve warm, at room temperature, or slightly cool. Cut into wedges or small squares, sticking a toothpick in each square if serving as an appetizer.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per tapa portion; Calories (kcal): 170; Fat (g): 10; Fat Calories (kcal): 90; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 5; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): 15; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 400; Cholesterol (mg): 105; Fiber (g): 2;

Photo: Sarah Jay

My son, who hates pretty much everything but especially potatoes gave this a 7/10. That is saying a lot. Good flavor and a nice change. I made this to go with steak on the grill. It was great to have it already done when it came time to cook the meat.

My family is super picky and loved it! This will be made often in my home.

Having just returned from Spain and craving a culinary connection to a wonderful experience (And in the absense of jamon here!) I was excited to see this recipe for one of the dishes we enjoyed frequently while there. I attempted to adjust the recipe to suit the 4 eggs we had rather than the 6 called for and found it to be good enough to try again with the full ingredient quantities, but was challenged to produce something as fluffy and light as the ones we had in Spain. I am using a cast iron rather than non-stick skillet. Perhaps that and the quantity adjustment were the factor? In response to sigviscious, might I suggest you only use olive oil as any other vegetable oil would add the unpleasant oily taste you refer to and regarding your cholesterol, you couldn't be using anything better than olive oil to benefit your HDL and LDL numbers!

I'm from Spain and this recipe is pretty close to the one I cook regularly. Since I've been making it all my life I measure by eye and always turns out great. There are as many variations of Tortilla Espanola as people in Spain. I personally don't add garlic and liked a very thin Tortilla.You could add just about anything to it. Green and red peppers are great and so is zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms...just start experimenting with this one!

If I didn't have a job (tortilla is time consuming) this is the snack my kids would have on the counter waiting for them every day after school and the appetizer I would take to every dinner party. I make it as the recipe suggests using only onions and garlic. I made it today (again) and have some suggestions for the last reviewer who thought it was a waste of time and oil: 1) Use ONLY olive oil. If you don't like olive oil, this isn't the recipe for you. 2) Drain the potatoes after cooking in a wire mesh strainer over a bowl. Do the same with the onions and garlic. This way you retrieve almost all the oil and produce a less greasy tortilla. And yes, use the oil again! It is now flavored with onions and garlic. 3) Serve cold or at room temperature. Hot, it falls apart,and warm it might resemble olive oil hash browns. A GOOD tortilla espanola is simple but delicious. Not unlike a good french bread, it can stand on its own or it can be dressed up. But for some people, it's just bread. Try the recipe again.

It seems like most of the reviews for this recipe involve adding extra ingredients, which undoubtedly help improve this recipe, as it was one of the most bland-tasting meals I've had. Considering the recipe contains only 3 primary ingredients (eggs, potatoes, and onions), I was dumbfounded when it took over 45 minutes to prep and cook. Then to have it taste no different than any typical eggs and hash browns breakfast, I was left unimpressed. The dominant flavor ended up being the oil, probably because all of the potatoes and onions were pan-fried in a 1-3/4 cup lake of the stuff. To then use oil again to cook the tortilla mixture, c’mon! I could feel my cholesterol level rising with every bite, thanks. I applaud the other reviewers’ use of additional ingredients, especially the peppers, cheese, or even asparagus. I’m sure those items made this recipe infinitely more flavorful. Without them, this recipe seemed no different than a flavorless, oily egg-and-potato-omelette.

Fantastic. An old favorite I've returned to. I like to add parsley to the onion mix toward the end of the cooking. It gives the tortill a little more freshness and some color. Leftovers make a great--and authentically Spanish--sandwich filling.

I lived in Spain for a year in college and have been looking for a recipe that produced a perfect tortilla, like the kind the mother of the family that I lived with would make at least once a week. . .and this one delivers! Follow the instructions and you have a perfect tortilla. This is my go-to brunch/lunch/appetizer and it never fails.

Excellent, authentic recipe. My teenage son has perfected this one; he'll never go hungry!

Great recipe! I added some blanched and chopped asparagus, a touch of minced jalapeno, and once the bottom started setting some mexican style four cheese blend. Quite tasty!

This is just one of those great, satisfying dishes that can be eaten any time of day. I like to add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of sweet pimenton (smoked paprika) to give it even more of that authentic Spanish flavor.

What an excellent recipe. Of course I took the liberty of adding two or three New Mexican Hatch green chilis (chopped of course) to give it a little bite.

Delicious. I have always wanted to make a tortilla and this recipe made it easy. I was afraid of all that oil but it actually did not turn out too oily. I used organic red potatoes, lots of garlic, red and yellow onions, plenty of pepper and salt. I always have problems flipping frittatas so I used my Williams-Sonoma frittata pan instead of the plate method to flip and it worked great. I ate it for dinner with a ceasar salad. The Parmesan cheese and the tang of the dressing were a lovely complement. Really hit the spot!

When my sister returned from school at the University of Madrid in Spain, she prepared this recipe and it has always been a favorite. This one is authentic! For contrast of texture and flavor, I add small chunks of Laughing Cow (soft white) cheese into the mixture. It's easier to add the cheese after the mixture has been poured into the skillet. So-oo Good!

A tortilla is a great go-to dish to have in your cooking arsenal. It's fast and easy, kids love it, it packs well in lunches the next day, and I always have all the ingredients on hand. Everyone is always impressed when I make this but it is such simple comfort food! This is an excellent article with great step-by-step instructions.

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