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Tortilla Española

October 22, 2011

Tortilla Española, a Spanish omelette, dedicated to my long time friend, John.  John is a childhood friend of mine, born and reared in Saint Paul, and now living with his lovely wife, Nancy, just outside of New York City.  He’s always been a fixer of sorts, as he has an unmatched talent for sniffing out the very best food in the most unlikely of places.  Want to know the best shop in NYC with hand pulled noodle soup?  It sure as hell isn’t in Manhattan’s Chinatown.  Want the best cappuccino you’ll taste stateside?  John will take you shady unmarked storefront where the stodgy old patrons do business in Italian over coffee and cigarettes.  That’s right, cigarettes…indoors…in NYC, of all places….Mafia.  You’ll keep your eyes on the floor and feel like your walking on eggs. But damn, that cappuccino is spot on.  If there’s anything you want, he’ll take you there long before the E-Gullet bloggers or Chowhounds have a chance to ruin it.

Every conversation we’ve had for the past 12 years has always included a discussion of what the other is cooking.  His newest fascination has been Tortilla Española, the everyday utility potato and onion omelette found on every table in Spain.  Tortilla recipes vary from region to region, from thin and dense tortillas to tall and fluffy ones.  John’s recipe is based on one that he learned from a chef on his most recent trip to Spain, and is on the thicker side of things.  I thought I’d try my own take on this recipe.  And, true to my male tendencies, I thought I’d try to make it even bigger…and better – because they go hand in hand, right?

My first few versions of this tortilla were pretty thoughtless, borne out of needing a quick and easy way to make breakfast for a group of friends on a recent cooking weekend.  Fry sliced potatoes, caramelize onions, add eggs, finish like a frittata.  Done.  For this latest version, I took a hint from my recent gnocchi making obsession and ran my potatoes through a food mill.  The bottom of the tortilla was set on the stove top, the body was risen like a soufflé, and the top was browned under the broiler.  The result?  A thick and lighter-than-air tortilla that melts into eggy and carby goodness.  It’s instant gratification for anyone with a penchant for savory things, a straight shot to the pleasure center of your brain, and a belly rub for your inner fat kid.  I probably won’t be making this again anytime soon, as this was a pain in the ass to make.  This was the most complicated way to make (what should be) the most simple of dishes.  Well, maybe the next time John’s in town…

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