It is a mystery why potato omelette has not become a national dish in the UK, as it is in Spain (tortilla de patata). The dish requires only three ingredients: potatoes, eggs, and a little onion, and all are readily available here.
The dish is wonderfully simple. First, the potato and onion is slowly cooked in oil until they are almost melting. Then they are mixed with eggs to make the omelette.
The result is a delicious, rich, and satisfying omelette, that is best served on crusty bread accompanied by a salad.
Watch How To Make Potato Omelette
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The Spanish are passionate about tortilla de patata, or potato omelette, and for good reason, it is a wonderful and simple combination of flavours using eggs, potato, and a little onion. Villages, towns, and cities organise annual competitions to recognise the best tortilla makers. The omelette is a meal in itself, served on fresh crusty bread, and is cooked at home and widely available in Spanish bars as a pintxo or tapas.
The vital step in making a tortilla de patata is how the potato is cooked, gently fried in olive oil until it has a consistency similar to mash potato. Start by peeling the potato in the usual way. The secret to a great tortilla is how the potato is chopped. The potato is diced into fine slithers, wafer thin slices, to maximise the surface area and make cooking faster. This takes more time, but is essential to achieving the delicate consistency of the final omelette.
When done with the potato, chop the onions, or for this omelette, I substituted onions for sweet shallots.
Add the potatoes and onions to a pan, and pour over the top a generous helping of olive oil. Do not skimp on the olive oil, the potatoes and onions should almost be floating in it. This is important so that the potatoes cook through evenly. Sprinkle on a generous pinch of salt.
To cook, place the pan on the hob with a high heat just until you hear the first sizzle of the oil – and well before there is any chance of the potato or onion browning. Then immediately turn the heat down low, cover the pan with a lid, and leave to gently simmer. Regularly come back and check the pan, stirring frequently to ensure an even cooking, and ensuring none of the potato pieces have stuck together.
About twenty to thirty minutes later, the potato and onion mixture will have turned deliciously soft and mushy in the olive oil. Neither the potato or onion should be crispy.
Remove the mixture from the heat, and pour into a colander standing in a large bowl to collect the surplus oil. The olive oil will gradually seep out of the mixture. Help the oil out by giving the colander a shake or pressing down gently with a spatula. The oil will be used to cook the omelette.
Now that the potato is ready, work can begin making the omelette itself. The omelette uses lots of eggs. Do not be tempted to reduce the number of eggs. This is important for the consistency of the omelette. Break the eggs over a large bowl and mix together. When done, pour in the potato and onion mixture. The ideal consistency looks a little like a porridge, a sloshy mixture that is both runny and gloopy.
Cooking the omelette is a fine art, that becomes easier the more you practice, but the principle is straightforward. Start by pouring some of the saved olive oil into the pan used to cook the potato mixture. Place over a high heat to get the oil hot, add the omelette mixture to a depth of about one centimetre, and then immediately reduce the heat to a low temperature.
The idea is that the pan is hot enough to cook the base of the omelette, but not too hot so that it burns and sizzles. The omelette is thick, and therefore needs a lower heat to cook through but without burning the base.
When the bottom of the omelette has set, it is time to turn the omelette. Do not attempt to flip it! Instead, take a large plate to cover the top of the pan, lift up the pan with the plate still above it, and keeping the plate and the pan squeezed together, turn them over. Place the pan back on the heat, and gently slide off the omelette back into the pan. This method should mean that the uncooked side of the omelette is now touching the pan.
Continue cooking the omelette until you judge the base of the omelette has set, just like the top. A good way of doing this is to gently tap the side of the omelette to check its consistency. This also prevents it sticking. The top surface of the omelette should be a light golden colour. If you would like to cook it further, simply turn the omelette again using the plate method as before.
Some people like their omelettes with the insides still slightly runny, like scrambled egg, other people like it to be set like a cake. To judge the inside of the omelette you can insert a skewer to see if it comes out wet or dry.
No Spanish omelette looks the same! Spanish potato omelette is typically served with fresh crusty bread, and accompanied by a lettuce, tomato, and onion salad. Serve straight away, or chill in a fridge for a day or so. Enjoy!