Tortilla Española : Tortilla de Patatas : Spanish Omelette

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A while ago I posted an article about this dish but it’s time to bring it back. Not a whole lot to this recipe. 3 Ingredients (ok, 6 if you count oil, salt and pepper) and 10-15 minutes to make. The technique is quite tricky I have to say, cooking omelets is actually not that easy, takes a lot of practice. I don’t mind the practice. I can’t stop eating eggs, I’m like that snake… yep, that one, the one that eats lots of eggs.

The “secret” to properly cook eggs, like anything else, it’s careful attention to temperature and time. Eggs overcook easily. Also…, yolks and whites cook at different temperatures. The yolks cook at a lower temperature than the white part. The yolks set at around 158F or 70C. The whites completely set at 180F or 82.2C These temperatures are definitely inside overcooked-egg territory. I like eggs cooked a little below these. But anyways, with omelets, the problem becomes and average problem. Somewhere in the middle the omelet will be cooked satisfactorily.

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I use a non stick pan. with a lid over low heat. Like really low. The thicker the omelet the longer the cooking time basically. Consider using a diffuser over the stove to keep that harsh heat away from those delicate eggs. With an infrared thermometer you can measure very precisely how hot it is. Around 162C and any omelet would be honored to be cooked in that pan. 

To brown or not to brown eggs, that is the question. Browning happens at nigher temperatures than the ones I mentioned above. I like some browning on spanish omelets because that’s how every spanish omelet I ever ate was made and without some browning, it just doesn’t feel right… now, too much browning, and my trashcan starts wagging its tail.

For any other omelets I cook, I’m careful not to brown the eggs. Period.

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Ingredients (makes 4 servings):

1 medium onion
1 waxy potato
5 eggs
Olive oil.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

The potato. Peel the potato. Cube it into small dices. Place into a pot with salty water and boil until tender. I use the microwave sometimes. Takes longer though but frees up a burner. Rinse and allow to cool off.

The onion. Chop it into small dices. Sauté in a pan with olive oil until soft and translucent. I caramelized mine a bit, why not. I was bored.  Salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and allow to cool off.

The eggs. Room temperature if possible but not the end of the world otherwise. Add salt and pepper. Beat the eggs until white and yolk become one. Takes no time.

The omelet batter. Once the potato and the onion have come to room temp. Mix them with the eggs. With a spatula fold the ingredients in carefully.

The omelet. Add a healthy amount of olive oil.. but this I mean, more than you think you need. On a 10 inch pan, I could use 1 Tbsp and a bit more. Heat up the pan over low heat and add the omelet batter and cover with a lid. Cook until set. If the bottom side is starting to brown and the top is still a bit runny, get ready for the flip. It will be messy, and some omelets have died in the process, but with some practice, even the flip will become an non issue. I use a cutting board for this sometimes. The the operation always takes place  over the sink. Make sure the omelet isn’t stuck to the pan. Use a silicon spatula to ensure this. Once ready. Place the cutting board over the pan (obviously one you can handle with one hand and that it covers the diameter of the pan in question) hold pan and board together tightly. Flip quickly but carefully. Remove the pan. The omelet should be now on the cutting board. Slice the omelet back into the pan very carefully. Finish the cooking. I’ve messed this up a few times. Whatever happens happens, as long as the omelet isn’t too brown or on the bottom of the sink or kitchen floor, it should be good. It sounds like a nightmare, but if you succeed, your loved ones are gonna love you back. Enjoy.

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5 comments

  1. Hi Paul, great post on the technique. I’ve eaten a ‘few’ omelettes too many as a kid, both at home and in restaurants. In France it was always “omelette au jambon” what my parents ordered for me, and in Spain “tortilla de patatas”. As the Dutch word for fries is “patat” my parents tried to convince us it was omelet with fries… I love the pacman photo!

    1. hahahha! That is hilarious 🙂 It did take no convincing for me to eat a tortilla de patatas… ever hahah. I love a good omelette au jambon and au champignon which is my favorite. Thanks for your nice comment Stefan, so glad you enjoy this post!

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