Spanish Omelette with Potatoes and Broccoli
When I was living in Spain, I fell in love with Tortilla de Patatas in all its variations. The first time I tried to make one it didn’t taste at all like those in the cafes. So I started to ask my English language students how to make Tortilla. It became a regular speaking exercise in my one-to-one classes, and as a result I got many variations on the theme. I asked them to tell me their culinary secrets, passed down from grandmothers to mothers. By the time I left Spain, I knew how to make a good tortilla, but I still hadn’t quite mastered it! They’d turn out dry, or burnt, or they’d fall apart. This morning I finally made one that turned out great. Good enough for a picture!
So I thought I’d share the recipe with you.
By the way, I use organic – not obligatory, but certainly enhances the flavour!
- 400 grams baby potatoes, washed and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 150 grams broccoli florets (cut into small bite-size pieces)
- 1/2 a small onion (diced)
- freshly ground sea salt, black pepper and mixed herbs
- about 75 ml (1/4 cup) sunflower oil
- 4 large eggs
- about 100 ml (1/3 cup) semi-skimmed milk
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a medium size no-stick frying pan. What you want is a temperature that will make the potatoes sizzle when you add them, but not hot enough to brown them. You don’t want them crusty like chips!
Fry the potatoes, turning often – I use a slotted spoon – until they are easily pierced with a fork, but not so soft that they fall apart. Getting the right degree of doneness is just as important in making a good tortilla as the choice of potatoes! If you’re using an electric hob (stove) you’ll want to gradually turn down the temperature until it’s at the second lowest by the time you take out the potatoes. This gets the hob ready for the next stage.
While you’re cooking the potatoes, steam the broccoli and dice the onion. When the potatoes are done, remove them with a slotted spoon and set them on a platter to drain off the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add the onions to the oil and fry them till they’re soft, but not browned (this is why the lower temperature is so important!). Remove them from the oil and add to the potatoes. Leave the hob at the second lowest temperature, drain off most of the oil, and leave the pan on the hob to keep it warm.
Quickly beat the eggs, milk and herbs in a medium size container. When blended, add the potatoes, broccoli and onions and gently stir to thoroughly mix and coat the vegetables. Let it stand for about 5 minutes.
Mix gently and pour the mixture into the warm pan, press down the vegetables so the egg and milk mixture covers it, and cover with a lid. Check it every few minutes, and gently encourage the runniest bits to the sides. Don’t get too carried away with this, or your tortilla will have a ridges on the edges and a dip in the centre!
Leave it on the hob until it’s cooked enough to flip. 7-10 minutes, or more. You’ll know it’s ready because it’ll be cooked round the edges and still a bit runny in the middle.
Flipping at the right moment is tricky! If the tortilla is too runny, it will fall apart. If the pan was too hot, the bottom will be crusty, or worse still, burned!
To flip the omelette, place a dinner plate, face down over the top of the pan and flip the omelette top-side down onto the plate, then carefully slide the tortilla back into the pan. If all has gone well, your tortilla will be intact, and now upside down in the pan.
Cover and cook another 5-7 minutes. A perfect tortilla de patatas will be a solid mass, yet moist. The potatoes and vegetables are discernible, but it does not fall apart.
This morning I laid a few small, hot peppers in the bottom of the pan before I added the mixture. They add a little pizzaz to the flavour, but as they’re intact, they don’t make the tortilla spicy.
What’s your experience with making Tortilla de Patatas? Do you have a disaster to share? Or do you have a fail-safe culinary secret?