If you want to understand a country and its cuisine, order a plate of eggs.
Depending on where you are in the world, the simple dish will incorporate, excuse the pun, some local flavor. While French omelets and Italian frittatas are perhaps the first examples that come to mind, there’s also rolled Japanese tamagoyaki.
Spain is no exception, and a traditional tapas dish is the delicious tortilla. But “what should a Spanish tortilla be? Chefs and cooks throughout Spain have been debating this question for centuries,” writes March Vidal and Yann de Rochefort in their new book Boqueria: A Cookbook, from Barcelona to New York, which comes out Tuesday. “Some argue it should be nothing more than oil-cooked potatoes in a thick egg omelet. Others demand onions. Some keep the center runny, others cook it hard.”
At their restaurant Boqueria in New York, they came up with their own recipe for a tortilla. “We fall in the onion camp with almost-runny eggs. We’re also in the camp of flipping the tortilla often as it cooks to give it a better shape and color, and a more even texture throughout.”
The dish is perfect for brunch parties, since it’s supposed to be served at room temperature and can be made ahead of time. Vidal and Rochefort recommend topping it with some house-made allioli, which works perfectly with eggs no matter how you like to cook them.
2.5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 8 medium), peeled and cut into one-third-of-inch-thick half-moons
8 Large eggs
2 cups Extra-virgin olive oil
Half of a jumbo sweet Spanish onion, peeled and cut lengthwise in half, then in half again, so you have 4 sections, then half each again so you have half-inch-wide julienne slices
Rinse the potato slices in cold water to remove excess starch and prevent the slices from sticking when cooking. Drain, then spread on paper towels to dry completely.
Whisk the eggs in a very large bowl with a generous pinch of salt until well blended. Let stand until ready to use, about 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking, about 4 minutes. If you touch a potato to the oil, it should sizzle immediately. Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully add all of the potatoes. The pan will be very full. Put the pan back on the heat. Turn the heat to high, salt the potatoes very generously, and gently and carefully stir them a little to make sure they’re all submerged in the oil. When the oil comes to a boil, about 2 minutes, very carefully add the onion, gently pushing it all into the oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook, very carefully, gently stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and a paring knife easily pierces a potato, about 15 minutes. The potatoes should be tender, but not soft and mushy. It’s okay if they brown a little, but if they start to brown too much, lower the heat to medium or medium-low.
Set a large strainer over a bowl and pour the potato mixture into it. Reserve the oil for another use. Immediately transfer the hot potato mixture to the beaten eggs and gently fold until well mixed. Season with salt to taste. Wipe the skillet clean and set it over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil and swirl to coat the bottom and sides. When the oil starts to smoke, after about 30 seconds, add the egg mixture all at once.
Immediately stir vigorously for about 10 seconds, then spread the egg mixture in an even layer. The edges should bubble and set immediately. When they do, reduce the heat to low. Use a silicone spatula to fold the cooked edges over the wet top around the edge of the pan, creating a half-inch rim of cooked egg all around and setting the tortilla into a perfect round. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and center a plate larger than the diameter of the skillet over the top. Protecting your hand with a towel, grasp the handle close to the pan and place your thumb on the edge of the plate to help keep it steady; with your other hand, hold the plate tightly against the skillet, and carefully flip the plate and skillet over together. Lift off the skillet, set it back on the stove, and slide the tortilla, cooked side up, into the skillet.
Set over low heat and cook for 1 minute. Repeat the flipping and cooking until the outside of the tortilla is set and the center is soft when you press it, about 3 more flips with a minute of cooking between each. The repeated flipping gives the tortilla a nicer shape and color. When the tortilla is done, flip it out onto a cutting board or serving dish. The tortilla will continue cooking in the residual heat of the eggs. Let it cool for about 15 minutes until it is at room temperature. Cut into 8 wedges and serve.
1 Large garlic clove, peeled and trimmed
1 Large egg
three-quarters tsp White wine vinegar
quarter tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup Blended canola-olive oil
Process the garlic, egg, vinegar, and mustard in a blender or food processor until smooth, scraping the bowl occasionally. With the machine running, add the oil in a very slow, steady stream. Process until emulsified, scraping the bowl occasionally. Season to taste with salt.
Used by permission of Bloomsbury/Absolute Press. From Boqueria: A Cookbook, from Barcelona to New York by March Vidal & Yann de Rochefort with Zack Bezunartea. Copyright 2018 Yann de Rochefort.