Tortilla Española

Every time I make a tortilla, I am amazed how six of the most simple ingredients in the world can come together to become something so delicious. All it takes is:

  • potatoes (3 large)
  • eggs (8 large)
  • onion (about 2/3 of a medium-sized one)
  • garlic (1 large clove)
  • olive oil
  • salt


Not only is it made up from simple ingredients, but it’s pretty quick and super-easy to prepare. The only challenging part is the flipping. We’ll get to that in a minute. The first thing to do is to prepare the potatoes. Peel and wash them, and then cut into small thin slices. With a large potato, cut it in half lengthwise, and then cut each half in half lengthwise (so you have 4 long quarters), and then just start slicing away.

Start heating up a pot of olive oil on high temperature when you start slicing the potatoes, so that it’s hot and ready as soon as the potatoes are. The oil has to be deep enough to cover the potatoes, so make sure your pot is deep enough. Get all the potatoes in the pot, and then carefully scrape the bottom of the pot so that things don’t start sticking right away. You’ll need to do that every few minutes to make sure all your slices are evenly cooked and that none of them are sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Once they’re on the stove, dice your onion and finely chop your garlic. Your’re ready for your nonstick frying pan now. The size of the pan is important here too – I use a 10-inch pan, which is perfect for an 8-egger with the proportions listed above. Grab about 2 tablespoons of olive oil from your potato pot (reuse, recycle), and coat the bottom of your frying pan, and set it on medium-high heat. Throw in the onion and garlic, and just give the pan a shake every now and then to make sure it’s not burning. Don’t forget about checking on the potatoes!

Things are starting to come together now, so it’s time to prepare the last 2 ingredients. Crack your 8 eggs into a large bowl, beat them with a wisk, and then add a good heaping teaspoon of salt. This is a little hard to judge at first, since you can’t taste it in the raw eggs, and you can definitely adjust to taste the next tortilla you make, so make a not of how much you put in if you are the sort who measures.

By now, the potatoes and onions/garlic should be done, so carefully spoon them all into the egg mixture (use a straining spoon for the potatoes so you don’t take the whole pot of oil with you), and stir up your mixture a bit before pouring it into the pan.

Add another 2 tablespoons of your potato-oil into your frying pan, and then pour everything right in. Give it a stir or two with a wooden spoon and then pat it down to settle it into a good position. It should still move slightly at the edges when you give it a little shake – this will be important for the flipping. Start it off on medium-high heat, and then reduce it to medium once you flip.

And the flip! This is pretty much the only time when you can mess up your tortilla, so good luck! Once you start to see browning at the edges or smell cooked potatoes, you know it’s time to flip. You’ll need a fairly light plate that is the same diameter as your frying pan to cover the pan. Place the plate over the pan, and flip the tortilla right onto the plate. If all went well, you can place the pan back on the stove, add a bit more oil if you have a free hand, and then slide in the flipped tortilla, uncooked side down in the pan.

However, there are times when things can go terribly wrong:

  • You could get burned by the pan, oil, or tortilla. To avoid this, you can place a towel on the top of the arm holding the plate. It definitely helps with minor accidents.
  • Tortilla on floor, stove, or everywhere. Sigh. This happens to everyone from time to time, especially if you are on the tiny side and your tortilla is heavy. To avoid this, you can ask a bigger friend to help you out. This is the one part I ask my Spanish husband to help me out with often. Additionally, you can normally repair missing chunks of tortilla by sliding them back into the pan underneath the main chunk of tortilla.
  • Huge chunks of tortilla on floor, stove, or everywhere. If the above doesn’t help, you can quickly beat up another egg and use it as glue to pull the chunks you’ve gathered back together in the pan. Obviously this should only be attempted if you have a very clean stove or floor, or if you don’t really like the people you’ve invited over.

¡Buen provecho!

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