One of the guilty pleasures of traveling throughout wine country is the opportunity to taste the local cuisine in the places we visit. Each region has its version of comfort food, be it Cassoulet in Provence or Risotto in the Veneto or Asado in Argentina – you get the picture 🙂 In Spain, there are many local dishes that would qualify, but for me a Tortilla de Patata (a.k.a. Tortilla Espanola or Spanish Potato Omlette) is the perfect way to start any day off. A warm slice of tortilla and a cup of café con leché and all is right with the world!
Tortilla de Patata is also served in Spain as a tapa so you can pretty much have it any time of the day. In this instance you can certainly pair it with wine. I find a crisp white with just a little bit of roundness works nicely – a Godello or top-notch Albarino will do the trick. Salud!
Here’s a recipe for authentic tortilla from the Spanish master himself, Jose Andres:
2 1/4 cup(s) spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound(s) idaho potatoes, peeled, quartered, and sliced thinly into about 4 cups
Salt to taste
1 spanish onion, peeled and sliced into about 1 cup
6 large eggs
1. Heat 2 cups of the olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium flame. You’ll know the oil is hot enough for frying by placing a chunk of potato in the oil – it should jump a little when it reaches the right temperature (around 200 to 250 degrees F). Once the oil is hot enough, add the potato slices and fry on all sides until lightly brown and the edges are slightly crispy. This should take between 8 and 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the potatoes from the oil. Season with a little salt and reserve both the potatoes and the oil.
2. In a separate pan, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over a low-to-medium flame. Add the onion slices and cook until slightly brown, being careful not to burn the onion, around 10 minutes. Strain the onions from the oil and reserve.
3. Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk them vigorously. The eggs should still keep much of their thick, gelatinous consistency. Add the potatoes and onions and whisk together once more.
4. Add 3 tablespoons of the strained potato-cooking oil to a small 6-inch sauté pan. Heat over a medium flame. When the oil begins to smoke slightly, add the egg mixture to the pan. As you pour in the eggs, shake the pan vigorously for 10 or 15 seconds, to make sure the eggs come together. Leave the pan to cook for 30 seconds. Lower the heat and continue to cook for a few minutes. You’ll know it’s time to flip the tortilla when you see that the edges are cooked, but the center is still wobbly.
5. Place a plate over the top of the pan and invert the pan so the tortilla winds up on the plate, raw side down. If the pan looks dry, add the remaining 1/4 cup of fresh oil. Return the tortilla to the pan, by sliding it back in raw side down. Continue cooking for another 60 seconds. Serve immediately.
From Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America ©2005 Crown Publishing Group
Jim Greeley, Wine Supervisor, SW Florida