I’ve been dreaming of tortilla. Large succulent hunks of it. If I was hungry and craving tortilla in Melbourne I would go to our friend Michelle’s café Julio, where she serves potato tortilla with tomato rubbed sourdough. Yum! Or I’d entreat Sarah to cook it for me! We’d sit on the back steps in late afternoon sunshine and eat cold slices of it.
My lovely friend Ariella is red haired and fair, but when she pins a flower in her long red hair and pulls it all to one side she suddenly looks ridiculously Spanish. Ariella tells me that when her Spanish grandmother makes potato tortilla she fries slices of potato in deep olive oil on a very low heat until the slices are soft and clear. This is very slow cooking. When the potatoes are clear she takes them out, then caramelises onions in this oil, again on a very low, slow heat. Then out come the onions, and the oil is drained. In the pan that is now glazed with oily flavour she adds back the potato, onions and beaten eggs. This is fried first on the stovetop and then at the end is quickly put under the grill for a few moments. It is then flipped neatly onto a plate.
This recipe for tortilla is the one from the Moro cookbook, so it is a little different, but Ariella promises me that when she is in Spain she will watch her grandmother in the kitchen and report back to me with exact instructions for her grandmother’s tortilla. But for now will the Moro one suffice? Cut it into hunks and eat with an icey-cold beer, after all it is Spring in the southern hemisphere at last, put on some shorts and show off your spring-pins, why don’t you?
Potato Tortilla (Adapted from Moro – The Cookbook, Sam and Sam Clarke)
2 large spanish red onions
700g potatoes (firm and waxy)
10 tbsp olive oil
750ml sunflower oil for deep frying
6 eggs (preferably organic and free-range)
sea salt and black pepper
Cut onions in half, peel and slice thinly. Peel potatoes, cut in half lengthways then cut across into 5mm thick slices. Toss the potatoes with 1/2 tsp of salt and let sit in a colander over the sink/bowl. Heat the olive oil in a pan and when hot but not smoking add the onions with a pinch of salt. Stir, reduce heat to very low, and cook very slowly for 30-45 mins stirring as often as you can, every five minutes or so, so they don’t colour too much and cook evenly. Remove from the heat when sweet smelling and very soft. Reserve the oil.
Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a heavy pan. Heat the sunflower oil in the pan (never fill the pan more than half full) on a medium heat. Place the potatoes in the pan and cook on a slow heat, until tender without colouring them. They should gently simmer in the oil, not spatter and spit. Drain in a colander and reserve the oil for another time.
Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, whisk lightly til mixed and add the onions and potatoes. Add a pinch of pepper. Heat the onion oil from earlier in pan about 20cm across and set over a high heat. When the oil begins to smoke pour the mixture in, with one hand, and shake the pan with the other, so the mixture settles nicely in the pan.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5mins. Light the grill and put the pan in until the mix is golden on the top and firm to touch.