While tapas, Spanish cuisine characterized by small plates, is one of my favorite types of food, I had never attempted making it at home. I figured it would be a great “first food” to try, given my love of it, and the fact that L. Smith suggested it. If he was interested in trying it, then I’d definitely make it, since I love cooking for and sharing my new creations with others, especially him.
I started with a recipe for a Spanish omelet, also called a tortilla. The most basic recipe for a tortilla includes potatoes, onions, and eggs, but I found that the recipe varies by region and easily incorporates additional ingredients.
Since I grew up watching my Mom, who never used measuring tools and cooked using her senses, I don’t usually use exact measurements when cooking (I do, however, measure when baking, since I’m still not comfortable or experienced enough to forgo it without ill-effects on my baked goods). So, after reading through a couple basic recipes, as well as variations, I decided to go ahead with the ingredients I had on hand to make my version of a Spanish tortilla.
I started with bacon, which may make this more of an American breakfast omelet, but since I didn’t have any chorizo (the Spanish meat of choice) I went with bacon—close enough.
I didn’t have any onions on hand (and L. Smith doesn’t particularly enjoy them anyway), so I left those out. But, after tasting the final product, I think they would have added a bit more flavor to the dish.
For potatoes, I had Yukon Gold, which I washed, thinly sliced, and salted. Then, I heated a medium skillet with about a tablespoon of oil and placed the potato slices in a thin layer along the bottom. I moved the potatoes around with a spatula from time to time to prevent them from sticking.
While the potatoes cooked (~6-8 minutes), I cracked and whisked the eggs—I used 8. When the potatoes were soft and beginning to brown, I moved them from the pan to a paper towel to drain off some of the excess oil. I placed them back in the pan and added the beaten eggs, as well as a dash of salt and ground black pepper. I also added cheese; mozzarella in this case, but I’m sure cheddar or Mexican-flavored would taste great, too.
I set this all over medium-low heat (3 on my stovetop dial) to cook for 10-12 minutes until the sides and top started to firm. I also made sure to run a spatula along the sides of the pan so it would flip easily when the time came. For the flipping, I called in the help of L. Smith, since I tend to be prone to spills and things landing on the floor. He is usually the cool, calm, collected one, so he could handle the flipping without making a mess. He took a large plate, placed it on top of the pan, and with the other hand, flipped the pan. With the tortilla now on the plate, he eased it back into the pan to cook for just 1 minute more. Lastly, he used the plate to flip the tortilla again, bringing it right-side up again.
We only waited the time it took to the get salsa and sour cream out of the fridge to dig in. It was delicious, but a tad overcooked, since it was firm throughout and slightly dry rather than soft, as the recipes called for.
For a first try, I’d say we were successful in making a Spanish omelet. The hardest part was knowing when to flip the tortilla without it being too runny/messy, but not overcooking it. Now I know for next time that I’ll want to flip it sooner, when it still looks pretty wet/runny on top, because it’s actually more solid and cooked on the inside.
Spanish Omelet Variations
The next time I’m in the mood for tapas, I want to try a few other plates, to make it a true tapas experience!