My host mom, Charo, spends a lot of her day preparing meals for the family.  It’s a rare sight to not find a pot of chicken or lentils or sausage slowly stewing away on the stove all morning.  We’ve been eating a lot of hearty  and warm foods specifically for winter, but also some Spanish classics like paella, pisto, jámon, croquettes, and of course, tortilla.  I’m not sure how common-knowledge this may or may not be, but Spanish tortilla does not equal Mexican tortilla.  In America, we refer to a tortilla as a wrap: a beloved vessel for our beans and cheese and guacamole.  A Spanish tortilla, however, is quite different.  The tortilla is basically an omelette.  A super awesome and delicious omelette, that is.  It can be made with a variety of ingredients and almost every restaurant and mother in Spain has it’s or her own version.  From the beginning of my stay here, I’ve told Charo that I too enjoy cooking and would love to learn some Spanish recipes, and finally I have.  Every Sunday night Charo makes tortilla, and this time she (and Paula) taught me how it’s done.

And now, I will pretend I know how to be a food blogger.  (Warning: Charo doesn’t use measuring tools so all of the quantities are my best-guess…)

Charo’s Spanish Tortilla: serves about 4

Ingredients and tools:

  • 4 medium white potatoes
  • 2 small/medium white onions (or 1 large)
  • 4 large eggs
  • salt
  • non-fat milk
  • olive oil (a lot… you’ll see)
  • large frying pan & small frying pan
  • strainer
Step 1: Peel the potatoes and thinly slice them and chop the onions.  Then mix them together in a bowl.
Step 2: Put a large frying pan on the stove over medium heat.  Fill pan about 1/4 full with olive oil (see picture below) and let it heat up until it starts steaming a little (I think that’s what Charo meant…).  I also recommend turning on a fan above the stove.
Step 3: Carefully dump the potato/onion mix into the hot oil.  Stir CONSTANTLY with a spatula until the potatoes become tender enough to easily chop up with the spatula. (This took at least 5 minutes, I think…) Chop everything into small pieces while continuing to stir because you don’t really want to crisp the onions or potatoes.
Step 4: Pour the mixture into the strainer.  Make sure there is a container to catch the oil if you want to re-use it like Charo does.  Use the spatula to mash it up in the strainer and to push out as much excess oil as possible.
Step 5: In a separate (large) bowl, scramble the 4 eggs.  Add a little bit of milk  and about 2 pinches of salt to the eggs and continue scrambling.  Then pour in the (already-mashed) potato and onion mixture.  Stir everything together.

Step 6: Put the small frying pan on medium-low heat and swirl in a little bit of olive oil to coat the pan. “The smaller, the fatter.” -Charo, referring to the pan to tortilla size ratio.  When it is heated up, pour in the mixture and make sure the middle doesn’t burn by poking at it a bit with the spatula and keeping the heat low-ish.  Also keep pushing down the eggs around the edges so they don’t stick to the pan.

Step 7: Keep poking at the tortilla until you deem it about half-cooked.  Now it is time to flip it over.  Find a plate that is roughly the same size as the frying pan and flip the tortilla (uncooked side down) onto the plate and then slide it off the plate right back into the pan.

Step 8: Turn the heat off and cook the second side of the tortilla until you think it is done (sorry I can’t be more specific).  Charo says that it is best not to over-cook it.  You can always flip it back onto the plate to check the overall done-ness.  Next, decide it is done, and there you go! Enjoy your traditional Spanish tortilla!  It should look like this:

P.S. Tortilla wasn’t the only thing we cooked in the kitchen that night.  I taught them how to make my famous granola because I wanted to make them something cool and American with maple syrup (NH pride), but they already knew all about pancakes.  Luckily, it was a huge huge hit.  Charo just kept repeating”¡Que rico!” over and over.  (That’s how they say something tastes delicious.)  She told all of her friends about it and gave some to my host brother’s girlfriend, Elena, who loved it as well.  Here’s a picture of Paula helping scoop the finished product into mason jars.


Published by Elena Foraker '15

Hey! I'm a sophomore at CC from New Hampshire and San Francisco. Right now I'm studying abroad in Spain with the Mediterranean Semester program. I'll be living in Toledo for blocks 5-7 and then relocating to Sevilla for block 8. I'm a Spanish minor and a studio art major with a particular interest in pen drawing and watercolors. (I'll be sure to upload my sketchbook art from my travels!)

4 replies on “Tortilla”

  1. Elena….now this is true cultural exchange: food! 🙂 That’s how we weedle our way into anyone’s heart and how they worm their way into ours. I love it! And, their tortilla looks absolutely delicious…ready to try it out over here in the US. So so glad they got a chance to taste the delicious Boom Granola. What a treat for them. Thanks for the tutorial. I can’t wait to try this at home. 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing this slice of life. Please keep it coming. Another great post, and photos. And you certainly are a food blogger now, too.

    We will try to re-create the tortilla here, too. Gracias.

  3. How do you say Yummy!
    Love the photos too!
    And the “NH Pride” reference!
    Sounds like you are having a great time,
    Love from your NYC crew

  4. Thanks for sharing this wonderful dish… I can’t wait to try it! I am so envious of your experiences…I love hearing about your travels…love you…Auntie Sue

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