Thursday Dinner: Tortilla Española

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So, a tortilla is a tortilla except when it’s a tortilla. Yeah, it confused me too. In Mexico and most of Latin America, tortillas are those disks made of corn or flour and used to make tacos and burritos. In Spain, a tortilla is an omelet made with fried potatoes. Actually, that describes a tortilla española. The traditional, or French omelet, is called a tortilla francesca.

Linguistics aside, breakfast for dinner is a popular concept around Al Dente HQ (particularly with The Wife) so this was worth a try. Like any good omelet, the tortilla is scalable. I had a bunch of poblano peppers on hand, so I used those instead of Anaheim chiles. I was not going to pay the premium for serrano ham, but one could use cooked chorizo. Or mushrooms. Or caramelized onions if you are feeling adventurous.

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WHAT WORKED: I don’t often include jalepeños as something that worked, but this gave the omelet a particularly faint bite at the end. It was a nice surprise overall. Also, and call me crazy, but I like cheese with my eggs. It’s a weird thing and not all that authentic, but I added about 4 oz. of Wake Robin Jordan Jack.

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WHAT DIDN’T: I should have allowed the poblanos to cook a little longer to soften. I rushed it a little for time. Otherwise, everything was fine.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: I don’t remember at this writing. We both had difficult weeks last week so there was a lot of discussing the day and not a lot of banter about dinner.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Yes, and the next time with chorizo.

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Tortilla Española
By Jared Paventi

  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 16 oz. Yukon gold or butter potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 12 to 14 oz. cooked ham or Chorizo sausage, sliced into fork-sized pieces
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and rinsed
  • 4 oz. queso fresco, Monterrey jack or sharp cheddar, shredded or diced
  • 8 to 9 eggs
  • 1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup half and half or whole milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Add oil to a large skillet over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the potato slices and stir to coat with oil. Cook until they begin to brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a plate and set aside. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to turn translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes.

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Add the poblano and jalepeño peppers and cook 10 minutes, sauteeing until they become soft. Return the potatoes to the pan and stir together to mix. Remove from heat and transfer the contents of the pan to a 9×13 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Let stand to cool for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the potato ham mix cool for about 5 minutes.

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While the ham and potatoes are cooling, crack your eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add paprika and half-and-half, and whisk to combine. Distribute the cheese in the pan, then pour the eggs over the top, shaking the plan slightly to distribute the eggs.

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Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until the egg is cooked completely through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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One thought on “Thursday Dinner: Tortilla Española”

  1. I was lucky enough to have spent a couple of years in Madrid and Spanish tortilla is excellent, one of my all-time favorites. Mine probably has more potatoes and they are, basically “boiled” in olive oil, rather than browned. I usually aim for about a 50/50 potato/egg mix and I usually don’t add more than some shaved onion and cured chorizo (and maybe some chopped basil…. I’ll have to broaden my tortilla horizons!) I’ve even gotten pretty good at flipping the tortilla from the pan using a plate to brown both sides.

    It’s a simple dish, but tasty. Completely flexible – anywhere from a tapas at “The Caves” near Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, to breakfast after a long night out. Probably the ultimate Spanish “comfort food”, and one of my real “go to” recipes when I want something that everyone will like.

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