Adventures in Spanish Cooking: Tortilla Española

A friend of mine and I used to joke that we should start a cooking show where everything goes wrong, because we were hopeless in the kitchen. I’m proving this fact over and over with this “Adventures in Spanish Cooking” feature, because so far I am 3 for 3 on messing up Spain’s edible patrimony. First, I made terrible brava sauce for my patatas bravas. Then, my polvorones fell apart and got slightly burnt. Now I’m messing up tortilla española, a dish that contains no corn or flour whatsoever, and does not turn into tacos or fajitas. Tortilla española is basically a potato quiche without the crust, named “española” to distinguish it from the Mexican kind that contains neither potatoes nor eggs. My feelings on potatoes are pretty strong so it’s no surprise that my next choice of recipe was tuber-based (In fact, you can even get a tortilla española SANDWICH here in Spain. You know, in case you wanted to put some carbs on your carbs). Tortilla española is probably one of the easiest recipes I’ll be attempting to make, and yet somehow I managed to screw it up. The ingredients are simple: eggs, potatoes, onions, and olive oil. The preparation is simple: Peel potatoes. Boil potatoes. Beat eggs. Add potatoes. Cook. So what went wrong?


I took forever to peel the potatoes because for some reason I had bought the teeny tiny potatoes at the store, and I don’t have a vegetable peeler. So there I was, painstakingly removing all the skin with a knife while the onions browned in a pan. Once finished, I decided that the potatoes were small enough that I could just quarter them before boiling, and they were done in no time. After a short wait while the onions and potatoes cooled (if you put them into the eggs warm, they’ll scramble the eggs! Thank you, Ina Garten), I added them to 4 beaten eggs, along with some salt and pepper.


OK, so instantly clear was the fact that quartered was not small enough, because the lumps of potato in my bowl looked far larger than any potato chunks I have ever encountered in my tortilla. It was a bit late to fish it all out and chop some more, so I figured, eh, what the hell, and into the skillet it went. I spread out the egg mixture over the coating of olive oil at the bottom of the pan and waited. Once the eggs started bubbling and didn’t wiggle around so much, I decided it was time to flip. Out came the paella pan, which I put upside down over the skillet, then picked up the skillet . . . and FLIP!


I could tell right away that the tortilla was still in the pan even though the pan was now upside down. Gravity was not helping at all, so I gave the skillet a few taps to encourage my dinner. Nothing happened. What followed was a series of embarrassing attempts to free my tortilla, ending with me turning over the skillet to discover that the whole thing was stuck to the bottom.


Plan B was, stir it up quickly before more of it sticks, and have scrambled eggs española for dinner instead. Le sigh.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: