Friday, June 13, 2008

Tortilla de patatas

Tortilla de patatas
From: Nava

Ingredients: good oil, potatoes, eggs, salt. Onion (optional). The onion acts as a natural preservative, it keeps the omelette juicy and "unrusted" longer.

You will need a large pan; how large depends on how big you want your omelette to be (am I helpful or what). A fried-eggs pan is large enough for a 2-3 portions tortilla, the 3-people one will just be deeper and juicier (well, either juicy or burnt).

You will also need two dishes larger than the pan, one of which has enough of an edge to hold a mountain of potatoes over a lake of scrambled egg without pouring egg all over your kitchen, but at the same time this edge is low enough to slide the whole thing sideways into your frying pan without making the oil jump.

I have no idea how much the potatoes for a 4-egg tortilla weigh, as we always measure them by eye. It would be one medium-sized potato and one egg per person. If you like it "wet," add one more egg than mouths expected around the table. Since it's quite common to have miscalculated the amounts and need an extra egg anyway, I recomend starting with that extra the first times; once you get an eye for your potatage and your taste in omelettes, adjust your recipe.

Tapas style: this is actually considered somewhat heretic to be done anywhere except in a bar. Chop up the potatoes and onions in tiny bits. Fry them (although, as Ogette is my witness, most bars don't so much fry as boil them). The frying part is the same.

Home style: slice the potatoes. Deep-fry them; this means so much oil that for any other dish it would be called "drowning." You can scramble the eggs (no salt) in a deep plate either before you start frying the potatoes or, if you have enough practice to do two things at the same time, while the oil heats up. I'm assuming you use a pan, if you use a deep fryer do it normally but take the potatoes out sooner than you normally would. The oil must be hot enough that it's frying, not boiling. To see that the oil is hot enough, drop a small piece inside when you think it's already hot; when the piece of potato isn't just swimming about but trying to jump in place, add the rest. The potato slices change color twice as they fry: they become translucid first, later they brown. If you're using onion: add the finely chopped bits to the pan when the potatoes are about half-fried and don't worry about whether it gets done or not. Take them out of the pan and onto the scrambled egg when they're translucid but not brown. Salt them when everything is on the deep dish.

Pour off the oil into a large enameled jar. Put the pan back on the fire, on low. Add the egg and potatoes to the pan, sliding them in sideways from the plate, setting the potatoes more-or-less equally all over the egg. When the egg on the bottom is done (i.e., at the point where you'd fold it over if it was a normal omelette), transfer it back to the plate. This is done by covering the pan with your plate, taking it up from the fire, turning it over (one hand on the plate's bottom, one on the pan's handle), lifting the pan-now-lid and placing it back on the fire. Careful: it's heavy and hot!

Don't even think of flipping it up, I'm not responsible for you having to call both the paramedics and a painter for your kitchen: it's a potato omelette, not a pancake. Cover the plate with another plate; turn this "plates and omelette sandwich" over: now you have a plate with the potatoes on top of it and the done half of the omelette on top of the potatoes, push it sideways back into the pan.

When the bottom half is, again, done, take it out into the plate you'll serve from, using the same pan-becomes-lid method as before.

It can be served by itself as a main dish (I know some people who like using tomato sauce as a dip, but they're the kind of folk who'll put tomato sauce in their pasta Alfredo); by itself in smaller portions as a pincho (the portion should be small enough to be held aloft when you grab it by the toothpick from which "pinchos" get their name); by itself in small portions on a slice of bread (as a "tapa" or lid on the bread); it can go into a baguette as a sandwich, sliced into pieces so it fits the bar of bread (in this case, it's better to use pamtomaca, as a sandwich with only the omelette will easily be too dry).

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