Potato tortilla is served in tapas bars throughout Spain. Adding chorizo sausage gives a spicy sweet flavour, but if you are a vegetarian, simply omit it. It also works as a luncheon dish with a salad of sliced tomatoes and sliced oranges with a good squirt of lemon juice, fresh mint and pungent extra virgin olive oil. Get making one!
1 soft chorizo sausage (about 100g / 3½ oz), sliced
650g / 1½ lb (4 medium) new to mid-season potatoes
190ml (¾ cup) olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
4 medium (size 6) free-range eggs
½ tsp salt
1 Heat a smallish oiled frying pan (skillet) over a high heat. When the pan is hot, put in the chorizo and cook for about 30 seconds, until the edges just start to curl and colour. Turn each slice over and repeat. Turn off the heat and tilt the pan to allow any fat to run off. Scoop out the chorizo with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on paper towels. This operation should be carried out swiftly or the chorizo can burn.
2 Peel the potatoes and cut into slices 3mm thick. Pat dry with a clean cloth or paper towels.
3 Use a 20cm (8”) non-stick frying pan (skillet), or a cast-iron pan. Heat the oil in the pan over a medium heat. Slip in the potato slices carefully, then turn the heat to low. Cover with a lid or a large dinner plate and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the potatoes carefully, then put the onion on top and continue cooking for 10 minutes, turning once or twice, or until the potatoes are tender but not browned. Tip the potatoes and onion into a strainer set over a bowl and drain briefly.
4 Put the eggs and salt in a large bowl and beat until the eggs are broken up. Add the drained potatoes and onion and chorizo and mix in; leave for 10 minutes (or longer – up to two hours).
5 Wipe out the pan with paper towels and add 2 tablespoons of the drained oil (the rest can be reused; strain it into a container, leaving the starch behind). Set the pan over a high heat, swirl the oil around the sides of the pan, and once the oil is hot, tip in the egg mixture and immediately turn the heat to low. Cook gently until a light golden brown on the bottom. Place a large plate over the pan and invert the tortilla onto it. Quickly slide the tortilla back into the pan (if the pan is dry, add a little oil first) and cook the second side gently until a light golden colour.
6 Alternatively, slide the tortilla onto a large plate, cover with a second plate, invert, and slide back into the pan uncooked side down.
7 Slide the cooked tortilla on to a serving plate. Cool, then serve at room temperature, cut into wedges or cubes.
Making a good potato tortilla is easy once you know what the aim is: a potato ‘cake’ that holds together but which is not solid. The potatoes and onion need to be cooked slowly in a generous amount of oil, which gives the tortilla a meltingly tender quality, and which prevents it from becoming dry and eggy (but 80% of the oil is strained off and can be reused). It’s essential that the oil is hot when the potato and egg mixture goes back into the pan so that the egg puffs up around the sides (this prevents it sticking to the pan, too). Lower the heat immediately, so the tortilla cooks gently and keeps the inside creamy.
Buy potatoes that will keep their shape, not collapse into fluff. The best are waxy potatoes about halfway through their season, when they’re just starting to develop a little starch. Choose a good chorizo sausage that has a firmish texture and enough bite to wake your taste buds up. If you can’t find anything to match this description, or if you’re a vegetarian, omit the sausage.
It’s delightful with a glass of chilled Tio Pepe, or a glass of red Navarra from Spain, or with your favourite wine tipple.