What is Tortilla de Patatas

This article is part of a blog series where Grumo attempts to define common terms in a nonsensical and sometimes politically incorrect way. Please do take all statements with a grain of salt or acetyl-para-aminophenol.


Tortilla de patatas is a Spanish salty yellow pie made of fried potatoes and egg.
You will find this dish everywhere in Spain, as a tapa, pincho, or meal in most bars and as a very typical snack or dinner item in many homes.

Despite its simplicity when properly prepared it can be a delicious and addictive dish.
The hardest part of making tortilla de patatasis the peeling and cutting of potatoes.
Once the potatoes are taken care of the rest of the process is quite straight forward right until the flipping of the tortilla.

Let me explain how good tortilla is made.

First you peel and cut the potatoes.
There is a few ways you can cut the potatoes but the results are almost the same.
Some people like to cut them in very thin slices and others in little chunks.
Either way, as soon as you cut them you start frying them in a pan full of olive oil.
You are not making french fries so the heat should be not too high so they don’t become crunchy.

You want your potatoes to soften until you can easily squeeze them with your fork.
While you are frying the potatoes you whip the eggs.
When the potatoes are cooked you drain the oil and if you want you can use some paper towel to get rid of the extra olive oil soaking the potatoes.

Then you dump the potatoes in the bowl with the whipped eggs and mixed them all together.
Now with the pan empty of oil you dump the mix into the pan and cook one side of the tortilla until you see egg mix at the borders of the tortilla hardening.

Now you need to flip the tortilla so the other side can cook too.
The best way to accomplish this is by sliding the tortilla into a large plate.
Then flip the pan to cover the plate and then carefully but quickly flip the pan and plate together using both hands. One hand should be grabbing the handle of the pan and the other on the bottom of the plate.

The plate will tend to slide out of position easily when doing the flip so it takes a bit of practice until you can do the famous tortilla flip without spraying half cooked tortilla chunks all over your kitchen.

Once the flip is successfully accomplish all you have to do is wait a few minutes for the other side to cook and you are done!

How long each side should cook really depends on how big and thick the tortilla is.
Typically the thicker the tortilla de better. The thickest tortilla I’ve ever eaten was while doing El Camino de Santiago back in 2009, it was almost 3.5 inches thick and it was delicious!
It’s better not to over cook the tortilla because it will get too hard and dry. You want the inside to be moist but not too runny.

The ratio of eggs to potatoes can vary quite a bit but I found out that tortillas with more eggs than potatoes are tastier. A good number for a tortilla for 2 people would be 3 medium sized potatoes and 5 eggs.

That will produce a nice thick mushy tortilla, my mouth is watering already! hmmm!
Don’t forget to add a couple of sprinkles of salt to the mix before pouring in it into the pan.
Some people like to fry some onions with the potatoes but that is optional.
Tortilla de patatas can be both served hot or cold, either way it tastes awesome.
It can be quite filling so if you are in a rush for lunch having a tortilla sandwich will do the job.

The first time I cooked tortilla de patatas I forgot to drain the oil after frying the potatoes.
I added the eggs right away and ended up with the biggest oil dripping mess you can imagine.
I still ate it out of pride but I felt pretty sick afterwards.

Being born in Spain hearing the word tortilla always meant tortilla de patatas. It was a surprise to me to find out that in most of North America and Latin America tortillas are flat and made of corn.
In Spain a tortilla without potatoes and only whipped eggs is called tortilla francesa (French Tortilla) and for most of the world outside Spain our tortilla de patatas is known as Spanish tortilla or tortilla española.
There you go tortillas!

by grumo

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