with Hilary Cacchio

I don’t think I have been in a tapas bar from Sanlucar to Girona, Madrid to San Sebastián, which has not had this dish on their menu. It is possibly the epitome of Spanish tapas. After decades of sampling versions filled with all sorts of exciting ingredients, I have come to the conclusion that the traditional Catalan Truita de Patata is simply the best.

 Potatoes in Spain are generally of a waxy nature, and certainly they produce great results, but I think it’s about so much more than texture; the potato needs to have flavour too. I love using organic Mona Lisa potatoes, which have a beautiful buttercup yellow flesh.

The markets of the Vallespir are laden with fresh onions from March onwards; usually bundled into threes and resembling huge spring onions. Waitrose sell these onions under the label ‘Continental Onions’. They cook and sweeten quickly which makes them ideal for this dish.

I bought an SKK frying pan around 8 years ago, and I’m pretty sure that it will outlive me! I would definitely recommend investing in a decent frying pan, you won’t be disappointed.

Mona Lisa potatoes

♣ 150-200ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
♣ 600g Waxy Potatoes, sliced into 3mm discs
♣ 1 Brown Onion or 2 Fresh/Sweet/Continental Onions or a Bunch of Spring Onions; finely sliced
♣ 6g Salt
♣ Freshly Ground White Pepper
♣ 6 Large Organic Eggs
♣ 20-28cm Frying Pan

Tortilla Espanola:

♣ Warm the pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil.
♣ When the oil is hot, carefully add the potatoes, onions and salt. Then turn down the heat to low and gently simmer the onions and potatoes in the olive oil until tender.
♣ Turn the potatoes and onions occasionally to prevent them from browning and to ensure they cook evenly.
♣ Beat the eggs with the pepper in a bowl.
♣ Place a sieve or colander over a second bowl- you will use this to drain the excess oil from the potatoes and onions once they have cooked.
♣ When the potatoes and onions are soft, carefully empty them into the sieve/colander and allow the excess oil to drain into the bowl (keep the excess oil).
♣ Empty the potatoes and onions into the eggs and stir to coat everything evenly. Allow the mixture to stand for 15 minutes.
♣ Add 2tbsp of the reserved oil into the frying pan and return it to the heat to warm. When the oil is hot carefully pour the eggs, potatoes and onions into the pan and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 5-8 minutes. If the bottom of the tortilla starts to brown before it is set, turn the heat down further.
♣ When the centre of the tortilla is beginning to set, loosen the edges of the tortilla from the sides of the frying pan then give the pan a shake to loosen the base of the tortilla too. It’s important that the tortilla isn’t stick to the frying pan.
♣ Take a dinner plate (ideally the same diameter as the frying pan!) and place it eating-side down on top of the frying pan (like a lid). Hold the plate in place using one hand and turn over the pan with the other so that the tortilla flips out onto the dinner plate.
♣ Return the empty frying pan to the heat with a little more of the reserved oil. Gently slide the tortilla back into the frying pan- so that the uncooked side is facing the heat. Cook the tortilla for 3-4 minutes until just set. (If this approach seems too daunting, place the frying pan under a hot grill and cook the top until it puffs up and turns golden brown.)

I like to serve tortilla warm and on the day that it is made. It will keep within the fridge though.
You can serve it as a lunch or supper dish accompanied with steamed asparagus or a green salad drizzled with Pedro Ximinez sherry vinegar.
Alternatively cut in into wedges or cubes and serve it as tapas.

Whilst it’s perfectly delicious on it’s own, tortilla is also lovely served with the ‘Pea & Mint Salsa’ from the August Chapter of ‘Sourdough Suppers’, (see below) or with Romesco Sauce , or homemade Thousand Island Dressing packed with finely chopped cucumber, tomatoes, cornichons, and avocado.

HilaryVisit Hilary’s blog  for a slightly more modern take on Catalan recipes, or order her new book, Sourdough Suppers’ on Amazon.fr or ebay.fr or by email at hilaryjj@btinternet.com

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