I was looking through some of my blog archives a few days ago and I realized how things have changed around here. From complex petits gateaux to an array of laminated doughs, this blog started as a way to keep alive my passion for the art of pastry, the technique and precision. However, with small babies in our lives and all the time that involves, this blog has transformed into a recollection of the simple meals and desserts we eat in our everyday lives. It might be just a phase, but I’m really enjoying it too.
Where I grew up, tortilla de patatas is a staple. It is the snack we eat on Sunday mornings at pintxo bars, it is the bocadillo we take on school trips, it is part of all birthday parties… it is everything to us. Simple as can be, but such an emblem of our gastronomic culture.
A friend just told me yesterday something that stuck with me. When someone you love comes over for dinner, you make them a tortilla de patata because it takes time and love to make it. When someone that means nothing to you comes over for dinner, you buy the most expensive fish and just stick it in the oven. I love that.
Everyday I get many emails of readers asking me questions about macarons and how to perfect their technique, but a close second are the emails I receive asking me about how to make a good Spanish tortilla. Making a decent tortilla is not difficult, but making a great one is a different story. How can a recipe that only contains potato, onion and eggs be so difficult to master? The answer is the oil and what you do with that oil.
It is all about a good quality extra virgen olive oil, how much of it and how that oil is heated. It is very important that the oil is not too hot so the potatoes end up poaching rather than frying. It is almost like making fondant potatoes.
This is a slight variation to the traditional recipe with the addition of parsnips and watercress. Try this recipe and let me know what you think. You won’t be disappointed.
Potato, Parsnip and Watercress Spanish Tortilla
makes 1 8″ tortilla
1/2 cup extra virgen olive oil
1/2 medium onion, medium dice
2 medium russet potatoes, medium dice
1 medium parsnip, medium dice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of watercress, roughly chopped
In an 8″ non stick skillet, heat the olive oil in medium heat. Add the onions and sweat them for about 2 minutes. Add the diced potatoes and parsnip and the 1 tsp of salt. Keep the heat in medium for about 2 minutes and then lower it lo medium low for about another 15 minutes. The point here is that the potatoes must poach in the olive oil not really fry. We don’t want crispy potatoes inside the tortilla. Towards the end, I even take a fork and gently mash them a bit so the olive oil gets inside the potato as well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and the 1/2 tsp of salt. Add the watercress. Drain the potatoes and parnsips slightly and add them to the eggs. It’s ok if they are hot and the eggs scramble a bit.
Remove most of the oil from the pan. Leave about 1 tsp of oil. Turn the heat back to medium. Add the egg mixture and using a wooden spoon, stir the center so the egg starts to cook. When the center starts to scramble, let it be and don’t stir anymore. Tuck in the edges nicely with the spatula and cook for about 2 minutes.
Flip the tortilla with the help of a plate and finish cooking the other side. Some people like the center a bit runny, others all the way cooked. Personally, I like it when some of the egg still a bit runny but not too much.