How to make the perfect Spanish tortilla

This omelette is all about good ingredients — but what those are is up for debate. Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, executive chef at Decimo at London's The Standard hotel, breaks it down.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020,
By Peter Sanchez-Iglesias
This is an omelette that rewards care, attention to detail and patience — but there’s room ...

This is an omelette that rewards care, attention to detail and patience — but there’s room for creativity, too.

Photograph by Stockfood

What makes the perfect Spanish tortilla? Is it the type of potato? The number of eggs? The cooking temperature? In fact, it’s all of the above. This is an omelette that rewards care, attention to detail and patience — but there’s room for creativity, too. Onions are optional, and you can add almost anything else to the mix, whether it’s meat, cheese or extra vegetables. Simply follow a few basic tips and your tortilla should turn out just right.

Eggs

Use the best quality free range eggs you can find — the fresher the better. If you’re making a smaller tortilla, adding an extra yolk for each whole egg you use will give a richer flavour; it won’t work for a bigger tortilla though, as it won’t cook through.

Potatoes and fillings

Use Maris Piper or King Edward. Slice thinly and fry gently for texture. As for other fillings, practically anything that goes with chips or eggs will work, except fish. Cheeses and charcuterie are great. Pepper is optional, but quality salt is essential.

Onions

In Spain, you’ll sometimes find this dish made with them, sometimes without. If using them, large Spanish or Italian white onions are best, sliced finely then fried until golden. Dry on paper and add to the egg mixture to infuse around an hour before cooking.

Equipment

Using a non-stick pan will make it much easier to turn the tortilla over. Wipe it evenly with a little olive oil before cooking. When you come to turn it, use a plate big enough to cover the pan, with a bit of a lip. Then flip and slip back into the pan.

Cooking

Start cooking the tortilla on a high heat, before reducing the temperature to cook it slowly and gently. You can turn it more than once during cooking, as long as it gets an equal amount of time on each side. Don’t be tempted to finish it in an oven — this will dry it out.

Serving

Serve it at room temperature or cold — the tortilla should have some moisture, but it also needs to be the right balance between runny and raw. Serve with a crisp green or tomato salad, or play with texture with some olives or marinated red peppers.

Peter Sanchez-Iglesias is executive chef at Decimo restaurant, at The Standard hotel, London.

Published in Issue 9 (summer 2020) of National Geographic Traveller Food

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