This will be the last new post for Meal Monday on Currentmom.com. The archive will remain up, however, so all the recipes from the past few years are there for the taking. I've enjoyed this assignment tremendously, as it combines two of my favorite creative activities: writing and cooking. What could be better?
As a fitting grand finale, I've called upon my friend Steve Caro, in England, to share one of his specialities. He is a wonderful cook and a talented writer, so enjoy his Tortilla, a fall scene from Maine, Steve's incredibly helpful annotated instructions -- and thanks for reading!
4-6 potatoes depending on their size. A waxy potato is best. The variety I prefer, given that I’m not in Spain, is Marfona.
2-3 onions. Spanish onions are more widely available outside Spain. They are generally quite large, so two would probably be enough.
6 medium eggs.
Olive oil. I always use Extra Virgin but it’s not essential. Sunflower oil would do almost as well.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Probably the most important thing about cooking this dish is your pan. Ideally you want a large, high-sided, heavy non-stick pan in good condition. Otherwise the potatoes will stick to the bottom.
Slice the peeled potatoes into a large mixing bowl. Your slices want to be irregular in shape and not too thick, something like the size and thickness of a £1 coin. You can cheat by using a mandolin or food processor but this tends to produce slightly too thin and too regular shaped slices which tend to stick together and release more starch in the cooking. But it’s not a disaster if that does happen. You can even grate the potatoes if you’re pushed for time. The cooking time will be significantly less if you do this and you should slice the onions more thinly.
Top and tail the onions and remove the outer layers of skin. Slice the onions. Any which way is good, though I would avoid long thin strands.
Mix the potatoes and onions well in the bowl with your hands.
Now put the pan on a medium heat and add at least 3 Tbs. oil. Bear in mind that olive oil has a low burning temperature so it is a mistake to leave the oil in the pan with the heat on for too long on its own. If it burns it becomes bitter.
Add the potatoes and onions and begin to fry. It is a good idea to add salt at an early stage in the frying. Salt helps to draw out bitterness from the onions. I would add a good half tsp. salt at the beginning. Keep turning the potatoes and onions in the pan. If it seems to be going too slowly you can turn up the heat a little.
While this is going on (it will easily take at least 20 minutes) beat the eggs in the mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Continue to turn the potato and onion mixture in the pan. This will gradually reduce in size. Continue to cook, turning constantly, until it is well browned and glossy. When you think it is done, taste a piece of potato. If it is still hard it is not done. You may also need to add a little more salt. When the mixture is done (the potatoes should be soft and the onions semi-caramelized), turn the contents of the pan into the bowl with the beaten eggs. Mix well.
Now comes the tricky part. If your pan is very large and heavy, you may need to finish the tortilla off in a slightly smaller pan. But it will also need to be fairly high-sided and non-stick. Put the pan back on a medium heat. If you are using the same pan you did the frying in, it is a good idea to give it a wipe with some kitchen paper to ensure there is no potato and onion mixture left. Add a dessertspoon of oil to the pan and tilt the pan so the oil coats the bottom and sides. When the oil is hot pour in the potato, onion and egg mixture. Shake the pan well so the mixture spreads out and fry for about 3 minutes. You can turn the heat up a bit for this part of the cooking, though you never want to use maximum heat. Give the pan a good shake every now and then to prevent the tortilla from sticking to the sides of the pan. At the end of 3 minutes or so, place a plate large enough to cover the pan upside down on the pan. You may need to use oven gloves and you will need a strong wrist. Taking a firm hold of the pan handle in your right hand if you’re right handed and placing your other hand on top of the plate, boldly turn pan and plate over so that the contents come out onto the plate. Put the pan back on the heat, add a little more oil and slide the mixture back into the pan so that the uncooked side of the tortilla goes in first. Fry for a further 3 minutes or so, adding any small residue of the mixture that got left on the plate. Finally place the plate back onto the pan and turn out the tortilla using the same method. If there is any mixture on the edge of the plate give it a wipe with kitchen paper before taking to the table. It is no bad thing to let the tortilla rest for a few minutes before serving. It can also be eaten cold, indeed it is usually eaten cold in Spain, though I prefer it hot.
Personally I think Tortilla is best with bread (something like Pain de Campagne or Ciabatta is ideal) a nice salad and a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc, though it goes equally well with red wine.