Cádiz Tortilla de Patatas, a Spanish Omelette

For a time, I lived close to Cádiz in Andalusía, the southernmost point of the country where the Atlantic crashes into the Mediterranean. It’s a beautiful city with a laid-back vibe, brilliant seafood and a maze of curved streets bathed in intensely luminous white sunlight. It’s a place described by the novelist Laurie Lee as “a scribble of white on a sheet of blue glass, lying curved on the bay like a scimitar and sparkling with North African light.” Having treasured his books as a child, I was – at last – books in hand, following in his footsteps. Once in early summer I came across a tiny backstreet place its walls covered with bullfighting memorabilia and dusty brightly painted terracotta pots (most of which I wished were mine); I sat down on an old rickety chair, relieved to be out of the sun for a while, and chatted with the owner in a combination of schoolgirl Spanish and mime (rather pantomime). There was no menu, he just rattled off a short list of the dishes of the day in a dialect that I couldn’t understand. The only word I could pick out was ‘tortilla’ so I went for that and this is the dish that came out of his plumply lovely wife’s kitchen served up with a basket of a local village bread – pan cateto – a bowl of smoky tomato sauce and a glass of cold minerally sherry from nearby Jerez. They wouldn’t take my money and, to this very day, I wonder if I had just mistakenly walked into their front room. I never found them again.

Spanish Tortilla

Ingredients

500g new potatoes, cut in half-cm slices (discard the ends for their lack of beauty)
1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil
A knob of butter
10 large free-range eggs
30g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
100g Manchego cheese, finely grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
Lemon zest, to garnish
Salad leaves, to garnish

How I make it

Place the prepared potatoes in a pan, cover with water, add a generous pinch of sea salt and bring to the boil. Simmer until they are just soft, around 10 minutes should do it. Drain and leave to steam dry.

In the meantime, gently sautée the onion with a drizzle of olive oil and a knob of butter with a generous pinch of salt for 10 minutes then add the cooked potatoes and gently continue to sautée together for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop it catching on the base of the pan.

Heat an oven to 180C.

Line a shallow pie dish with baking parchment (this makes it easier to remove when the tortilla is cooked). Evenly distribute the potato and onion mixture across the bottom. Then beat  the eggs with a fork, add the parsley and season to your taste and carefully stir everything together. Set aside for 20 minutes before poring the mixture over the onion mixture. Top with the grated cheese. and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the tortilla is golden and bubbling at the sides but still oozy in the middle.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes before garnishing with leaves and lemon zest.

This is lovely served alongside my Mallorcan smoky tomato and garlic dip and a marinated tomato and onion salad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.