It is hard to think that half a year has passed since my last post… all I can say is what a year. Some episodes in work, home, and family-related have been truly awful, but that virtual cloud must have a silver lining. Not only has there been a significant change in my work life, Marlini and I reached the tough decision to give up our once idyllic home in Yorkshire and relocate to Lincoln.
Although the big day is just 4 weeks away- the time will fly by – and what aload to do! There is a very specific reason why I have not moved more often…. I hate it with a passion! The sheer amount of stuff we have successfully managed to accumulate between us is… staggering. And I have to say, the main suspect is our combined love of cooking… and all the kit, caboodle, and ingredients we have amassed to date. Of course there will be a good opportunity to offload some things….this will all take place in due course.
Based on more pressing commitments, this is my very last post published from our kitchen in Heath, and I am really keen on dedicating more time once we have settled into our new pad in Lincoln.
First and foremost, I cannot make claim to being Spanish, and apologies in advance to my Spanish friends for massacring such a classic dish. As it stands already, the nation is already divided whether onion should feature in a classic ‘Tortilla de patatas‘ which literally translates as little potato cake.
The traditional ingredients are potato, eggs, olive oil and salt – but in my typical style of experimenting with everything I cook, means that I have taken the traditional recipe, and gone a little ‘off the menu’. And of course, being half-French, it is impossible for me not to want to shove in some Dijon mustard at any given opportunity. In all honesty, every time I make my version of a potato omelette turns out slightly differently, and I adapt based on the ingredients I have at hand. I have even added capers and anchovies – if you do, I’d recommend reducing the quantity of salt used for seasoning.
When I discussed this with my good Spanish friend Alicia, she told me that whatever I do (based on my adaptation) I should not call this a classic Spanish tortilla – and she has a very valid point. Perhaps, Spanish inspired potato omelette with Chilli, Thyme, and Garlic is more accurate, but probably a little less search-engine friendly ;o)
I have eaten Spanish tortilla on a number of occasions, and no two have been the same. Even with the same core ingredients, they can vary dramatically in terms of texture, taste, and heaviness. I once had one made for me at home in the UK – I had never seen so much olive oil used in a single dish – as slices of potato were covered and simmered in oil for an age. This was far too stodgy for my personal taste. With this in mind, I wanted to experiment with adjusting the approach and minimize the amount of time potato slices were cooked in oil (sacrilege, I am sure!)
Taking a Y-slicer, I peeled all the potatoes into ultra-thin slices (this is the most time-consuming part of the preparation), soaked out the starch in cold water, drained, then covered in boiling water and blanched for 5 minutes. After draining and drying in a clean tea towel, I was left with a nearly fully cooked potato, reducing the frying time significantly. Less frying time = less time for olive oil to be absorbed, making it less stodgy.
As 2021 finally nears its end, I truly wish you all a far better 2022. If by chance, you are still able to celebrate the New Year with friends and family due to the Omnicron virus and have one tipple too many, my Spanish Tortilla Omelette with Chilli, Thyme, and Garlic recipe may give you the boost you need on New Year’s Day.
Spanish Tortilla Omelette with Chilli, Thyme, and Garlic
- 5 medium waxy potatoes washed and peeled
- 1 large white onion peeled, halved, and finely sliced
- 1 medium red onion peeled, halved, and finely sliced
- 3 large cloves garlic peeled and finely sliced
- 1 large green or red chilli finely diced
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 6 large free-range eggs
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard heaped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Freshly milled black pepper and sea salt to taste
- Remove potato skin with a speed peeler (Y-slicer). Then, peel the potatoes into thin slices.
- Place sliced potatoes into a large bowl, submerge with cold water and mix well. The colour of the water should become cloudy as the starch is washed out of the potato. Strain the water, then repeat. Leave potato submerged in cold water for 15 minutes. After 15 mins, strain the potatoes and return to the bowl.
- Peel, halve and finely slice the white and red onion. Also dice the green or red chilli and peel and finely slice the garlic cloves.
- Bring a full kettle of water to the boil. Sprinkle 2 tsp fine sea salt over the potato slices, pour over the boiling water and mix thoroughly to ensure salt is evenly dissolved and distributed. Leave the potatoes to blanch for 5 minutes.
- Bring a large non-stick frying pan to a medium-high heat, and add 3 x tsbp of olive oil. Add the onions and sweat for 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Add the green chilli and then the garlic, reduce heat slightly, then fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, strain the potatoes in a colander and try and squeeze out as much water as possible. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel, and try and wring out as much of the water as you can.
- Turn up the heat slightly, then add the potato slices to the pan. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, then season well with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. Add the fresh thyme (leaves and thin stalks are fine), then keep stirring through for a few more minutes.
- Break eggs into a small mixing bowl, drop in a few small dollops of Dijon mustard, then whisk thoroughly.
- Flatten the potato mixture, then pour over the beaten egg and distribute it evenly on top. Season once more with salt, pepper, and thyme leaves. Leave the tortilla to cook on a medium-high heat until it has set. You can give the pan a little shake to check if it has come together. The top will still be soft/ a little liquid, but that is fine.
- Preheat grill to 200C, then transfer the frying pan and grill the tortilla for a further 3-4 minutes, or until the top is firm and browned.
- Using a pan turner of fish slice, divide into 4 then flip over only a plate and serve.