Recipe No. 1 — Laila Gohar
»When all I have is eggs, I am perfectly satisfied with a good omelet. But I almost always buy potatoes and onions when I’m buying eggs. This is so that a Spanish tortilla is always within arm's reach.«
1.5 lbs potatoes (choose a potato that is not too starchy. Yukon Gold is a good choice)
1 lb yellow onions
2 cups olive oil
2 bay leaves
1. Beat the eggs in a bowl for a couple of minutes. The goal is to get them frothy and look lively, not limp. Add 2 pinches of salt. Set the bowl aside.
2. Peel the potatoes. Now, using the knife, cut equal size wedges. I do this by inserting the knife then snapping off the other end. I think the uneven edge makes for better texture when the potato is cooked. If this sounds complicated just cut wedges, and the more times you do that, the better handle you’ll have on the knife, eventually making it easier.
3. Slice the onions thin. Add two cups of olive oil to a nonstick frying pan. Two cups is a lot, but you will be able to reuse the oil, and the rest of the ingredients are relatively inexpensive.
4. When the oil is hot add the potatoes and onions, and bay leaf and salt, and cook for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are totally tender but not falling apart. The heat should not be high enough to color the onions. Just a slight bubble. When the mixture is cooked, drain the oil and save in a container. You can use it in other recipes in place of regular olive oil. Taste the potatoes. They should be salty.
5. Whisk the eggs for another minute. Now combine the potato mixture and the eggs and use the whisk to break down the potatoes ever so slightly. This will make the tortilla moist. Be gentle yet deliberate. You are marrying the ingredients, not mashing them. Add about 2 tablespoons of oil back into the pan and wait for it to get hot on medium low heat. Pour the mixture into the hot pan. Using a spatula, lift up the corners of the tortilla to create its distinctive puck shape. Cook for five minutes until the tortilla begins to slightly set around the edges but is still loose in the middle.
6. In five minutes you will think it’s too early to flip. Do it anyway. A good tortilla is custardy and loose and almost always looks like it needs more time before the flip, when it actually does not. It will take you making dozens of tortillas to be convinced of this.
7. Wet your fingers, and slick a plate larger than the tortilla with the water on your fingertips. Now using one confident motion, flip the tortilla into the plate. This is where the chance of failure is highest. Confidence is key. If you’re shy with the tortilla, she may let you down, and end up a sad, droopy mess. Give the pan one firm tug towards you to loosen, then an unafraid flip into the plate. Put another drop of the reserved oil in the pan and then slide the tortilla back in. Cook for 3 minutes. I like my tortilla blonde. This is one of the few cases where I don’t think brown food is best. The goal is always to create a pale yellow skin that just holds together the loose custardy egg mixture. Tortillas taste best at room temperature and the next day.
One last word of advice, if you don’t have a nonstick pan, don’t make a tortilla.