Features » Recipies
TORTILLA DE PATATAS
Contributor / 2009-06-29 11:06:11
The tortilla de patatas or Spanish omelette is a typical Spanish dish consisting of an egg omelette with fried potatoes. Frequently it also includes onion, depending on region or taste.
Apart from the aforementioned names, this dish is sometimes also referred to as tortilla española or tortilla a la española (Spanish omelette) to distinguish it from the plain - or "French" - omelette, with no potato filling, known as tortilla francesa. In The Americas, Andalusia and the Canary Islands, it is popularly known as tortilla de papas (papa being another word for potato in these places).
Other than its shared name in Spanish, which means "small torte", it has nothing else in common with the flatbread staple food from Latin American cuisine known as a tortilla.
A portion of tortilla de patatas. Thickness and texture varies according to region or taste.
The potatoes and onions are sliced and fried in abundant oil (preferably olive oil) so they get fried but also boiled in the oil. Once drained from the oil, they are mixed with raw beaten eggs before being slowly fried again in a pan. The tortilla is fried first on one side and then flipped over to fry on its other side. This is done with the help of a plate or a "vuelve-tortillas" (a ceramic lid-like utensil made for this particular purpose), or by tossing it in the air and catching it again in the pan if it is not too big.
It is one of the most common tapas throughout Spain and a favourite at Spanish picnics, as it can also be enjoyed cold. A tapas portion of tortilla is sometimes called pincho de tortilla as it is usually cut up into small cubes and each piece pierced with a cocktail stick.
The first reference to the Tortilla is found in a Navarrese document. It is an anonymous “Mousehole´s memorial” addressed to Navarra´s Court in1817. It explains the paltry conditions of the farmers in contrast with Pamplona´s and the Ribera´s inhabitants.
As the legend goes, it was but Tómas de Zumalacarregui who in Bilbao´s siege, he created the “Tortilla de Patatas” as an easy quick nutritive dish to satisfy the dearth of Carlist army. Although, it remains unknown whether this is truth, it appears that tortilla starting to spread during early Carlists’ wars. Other sources state that it was an anonymous housewife, in whose house the previously mentioned Zumalacarregui stopped by; The poor woman who had nothing to offer but eggs, potatoes and onions, scrambled all that, which turned to please the general, who would later make it popular.
There are many variants for this dish, and almost every Spanish home has its own favourite way of preparing tortilla. Some of the many additions to the base ingredients include: green peppers, chorizo, courgettes, aubergines, mushrooms, or diced ham. A peculiar variant is tortilla paisana that in addition to the potatoes and egg includes red pepper, and peas. The texture and width of the tortilla varies according to regions and taste. Tortilla almost always accompanied by bread and frequently by pickles such as olives and gherkins. In many bars and canteens, it is served in a bocadillo (a sandwich made with crusty bread).
In Argentina a variety of potato tortillas exists where the preparation is practically identical to its ancestral Spanish, the difference being that it includes more onion (cut in fine strips) and, as in the case of tortillas of beet and spinach, two similar plates are used to mold the mixture.