Tortilla de Patatas, also known as a Spanish Omelette, is the quintessential Spanish dish. The simple yet delicious omelette has origins that date back to the 1800s, although there is debate about exactly when and by whom it was created.
The first documentation of the dish was in 1817, when hungry farmers wrote a letter to the Cortes de Navarra outlining the severity of their situation. The explained that thanks to the creativity of the women in their community, they could survive off of a dish comprised of potatoes, onions, and eggs. They explained to the government that their basic meal consisted of two or three eggs in a tortilla which had to feed upwards of six people.
Another theory of Tortilla de Patatas’ creation is that General Thomas Zumalacarregui (a Spanish general during the Carlist War), created the inexpensive yet filling dish in an attempt to keep his troops fed.
One last theory is that the General stopped in at a woman’s house one night, asking for something to eat. She only had eggs, potatoes, and onions at her disposal and created the Tortilla de Patatas. Some believe that the General loved her creation and then popularized it amongst his troops.
No matter its origins, one thing is for sure: This Spanish staple is absolutely delicious. Tortilla de Patatas can be found in any bar or restaurant around Spain and is most commonly served as a tapa. While there are many variations of Tortilla de Patatas, this particular recipe focuses on the basic version, using only onions and potatoes. Other variations use ingredients like red peppers, chorizo, shrimp, or other vegetables.
2/3 cup olive oil
1.5 pounds baking potatoes, thick sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
In a large, round skillet (approximately 9 inches wide), heat the olive oil. Add the potatoes and onions and cook over medium heat for five minutes. Add the garlic. Cook the potatoes, partially covered, until soft (approximately 25 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Strain the potatoes and reserve the oil in a bowl.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the potato mixture to the eggs and stir until all of the potatoes are well coated in egg.
Add two tablespoons of the reserved oil back into the skillet and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the eggs and potatoes to the hot skillet, then immediately reduce to a low-medium heat. Continue to cook, partially covered, shaking the skillet frequently, until the eggs are almost fully set.
Use a large plate to cover the skillet and invert the omelette. To the pan, add another tablespoon of reserved olive oil, then slide the omelette back into the skillet on its uncooked side. Cook until the eggs are completely set (approximately 4-5 minutes).
Once the omelette is done cooking, slide it onto a plate and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve alone, with aioli or ketchup, or with any other condiment you prefer.