Monday, August 10, 2009

Spain Day 13 Tortilla a la Carmen

In La Bisbal d'Empord├ámet we met Carmen who not only hooked us up with 4 liters of wine in our own antique bottles (enough to endear me to her forever) she also told me how to make an authentic Spanish tortilla. Erase any visions of some sort of quesadilla because this is far from anything you’ve ever had in a Mexican restaurant. It’s a type of omelet filled with potatoes and caramelized onions.

After speaking with Carmen I surveyed the internet for tortilla recipes and found none that caramelized the onions first—I’m thrilled as I think I’m on to something really secretive and authentically Catalan; the food equivalent of having a key to the corporate bathrooms. I’m in baby!

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Tortilla a la Carmen

1 medium size onion chopped fine

4-5 smallish thin skinned potatoes sliced very thin

5 large eggs

salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil, Spanish if you can find it.

Coat nonstick skillet with olive oil and add onions. You don’t want them to sizzle and dance in the pan. You want it hot enough that the onions don't soak up the oil but cool enough that they can sit in the pan for ten minutes with some gentle stirring and turn a toasty nut brown.

While the onions are cooking sprinkle potatoes with salt and mix all the way to the bottom of the bowl. When the onions are done remove them from the pan and use the same pan for the potatoes. Add more olive oil if you need to. Again…no sizzle. You want the potatoes to cook without getting crispy. They are done when soft all the way through. Add the onions into the pan and mix together.

In a medium sized bowl stir eggs just until the yolk and white swirl together. Add the warm potato onion mixture and let sit for a few minutes then pour the whole thing back into a hot skillet that you’ve wiped clean of olive oil. As soon as your edges are set reduce heat so you don’t burn the outside while cooking the inside.

Now the tricky part…you’ve got to flip this sucker. Carmen was suspiciously abstract about this so I consulted the internet: Set a plate on top of the skillet then turn the skillet upside down so the tortilla is bottom up on the plate. Slide uncooked side into the pan and finish cooking. Tortilla is done when you poke it with a knife and it comes out clean.

Serve with Cava or Sangria (mine is soaking right now), bread that’s been kissed with fresh tomato and drizzled with olive oil and a nice salad.

In Spain Tortilla is eaten for breakfast, as a light lunch or tapa. We’re having it for dinner tonight.

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