Spanish omelette is pretty much ubiquitous in Gibraltar and Spain, a firm favourite at any time of the year but especially so in the summer. In Gibraltar it is known as ‘torta papa‘ which is a slang term for it’s Spanish name of ‘tortilla de patatas‘. This is a very simple dish that consists of potatoes, eggs and onion although there are several steps to make it. There is no need for other vegetables and especially not chorizo (aside from being vegetarian I am horrified every time I see British cooking programmes add chorizo to anything and everything every time they want to cook something remotely Spanish).
Spanish omelette is the perfect pic-nic food, and I usually have it at room temperature with salads, so it is perfect to make in advance. Some people make it runny on the inside but I prefer the eggs to be set. It is served by either cutting into wedges and would normally yield 8 portions, or you can chop it up into bite size squares and put a toothpick on each portion and it immediately becomes finger food, fantastic for sharing. This dish is vegetarian, so if you are making a BBQ your veggie friends will love this. For vegans there is also a vegan version that can be made which is equally delicious.
- 1 kg potatoes (approx 5 medium)
- 6-8 free range organic eggs
- 1 large onion
- 300ml sunflower / olive oil for frying
- salt to taste
- Peel the potatoes, cut into quarters lengthwise and slice thinly to a few millimetres thick. This will make it easier to fry and will save time in the long run.
- Put the potato slices in a colander and add about 1 tsp of salt and mix with your hands. This will draw out any excess water before frying.
- Cut the onion in half and thinly slice the onions.
- In a medium to large non stick frying pan (it is very important that it is non stick) add enough oil to cover about half it’s depth. I usually mix sunflower and olive oil because that way you get the taste of the olive oil but the sunflower oil prevents it from becoming smoking hot. Set to a high heat.
- Mix the onions with the potatoes and when the oil is hot enough add half of the onions and potatoes to the oil and gently fry. I usually turn down the heat a bit to a medium-high heat.
- You know when the potatoes are ready because the slices become soft. It is important to fry them enough to soften them but not for them to go crispy or any browning to develop.
- Once they are done take out of the oil and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.
- Repeat the last few steps with the next batch.
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add some salt. When the potatoes have cooled enough add them to the beaten eggs. If they are too hot they will scramble the eggs so if they are cool enough to touch then it should be fine.
- In the same pan decant about half of the oil used (you can reuse this oil another time for frying), set to a medium heat and add the egg mixture.
- This should start setting at the bottom quite quickly, it is important that the heat is not too high otherwise it will burn.After about 7-8 minutes you can proceed to flip it over. I find this step a little bit scary because it is a large amount of egg mixture and it is mostly runny still, so I usually use the trick of cooking a fritata. I put the grill on, and put the pan under the grill for a few minutes so that the top sets. Then I take it off the grill, put a plate on top of the frying pan, flip it over and slide back into the pan so that what was on the top now gets the direct heat. However the traditional way of doing this is to flip it directly but I have ended up with the omelette in my sink a few times so I tend to use the cheat’s way! It is a lot easier to flip when both the top and bottom parts are set, that’s for sure.
- Pierce the omelette all around so the heat transfers evenly and flip a couple of times more to ensure even cooking.
- When it is done, place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil, and add some paper to the top as well. Allow to cool and serve with some salad.