“Spaniards eat tortilla de patatas at all hours of the day; hot from the pan for supper or lunch, at room temperature as a midmorning snack or washed down with a glass of wine at a tapas bar,” writes chef, food historian and cultural anthropologist Maricel E. Presilla in Peppers of the Americas. “To this day, I think of it as comfort food for all seasons.” Indeed, few ingredients are as versatile as the egg, and the Spanish tortilla is a testament to that dexterity.
At its core, the Spanish tortilla is a cake of egg and potato. Most include onions; Presilla adds poblano peppers for both texture and flavor. As with so many inherently simple recipes, high-quality ingredients — in this case, free-range, organic eggs with a bright golden-orange yolk — make a world of a difference; technique, too. While a frittata can be finished under a broiler, the Spanish tortilla requires flipping mid-way through to ensure an all-over crisp exterior.
Beyond that, anything goes: serve it hot, at room temperature or straight from the refrigerator; add a sidecar of Romesco sauce; pair it with crusty bread or tinned fish; wash it down with wine.
Spanish Potato Omelet with Roasted Peppers
Serves 6–8 as an appetizer, 4–6 as a main course
1 lb or 4 3/4 oz (about 6 medium) hot green peppers, such as poblano or NuMex
2 lb (5 large) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 lb (2 medium) yellow onions, cut into 1/2-inch rings
1 1/2–2 tsp salt
2 cups olive oil
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1. Roast the peppers over a burner or grill, or under a broiler, until blistered and charred all over. Immediately place the blackened peppers in a paper bag, close it tightly and let the steam loosen the skins.
2. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin by hand or with a paring knife. Stem, seed, devein and cut the peppers into 1-inch squares.
3. Place the potatoes and onions in a medium bowl. Add the salt and toss well to coat. Warm the oil in a nonstick or well-seasoned skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is rippling but not smoking, add the potatoes and onions. Lower the heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are fork-tender and the onions are soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons oil.
4. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl. Pour in the eggs and stir gently to combine, being careful not to break up the potatoes.
5. Return the reserved oil to the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the egg mixture and cook until the egg sets and separates completely from the sides of the pan, about 3 minutes. Using a spatula, lift the tortilla and check the bottom; it should be golden.
6. To cook the other side, remove the skillet from heat, cover with a plate slightly larger than the skillet in diameter, and, holding both the skillet and plate firmly with oven mitts, flip the tortilla onto the plate. Return the skillet to the heat and very gently slide the tortilla back into the skillet. Cook until completely set and golden, about 5 minutes more.
7. Using the spatula, gently slide the tortilla onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, ideally the day it is made. Will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to two days.
The recipe above appears in Peppers of the Americas: The Remarkable Capsicums That Forever Changed Flavor, by Maricel E. Presilla, published by Lorena Jones Books, an imprint of Ten Speed Press, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House. Buy Now: $22