Sunday, December 07, 2008

the other kind of tortilla

Spain has not quite abandoned its resentment for that road game loss with England in 1588.

That, at least, is my theory why Protestant vegetarians are often confronted in Spain with sneak meat attacks. Ham appears everywhere -- in vegetables, in potatoes, in salads. Trying to find a ham-free dish in Spain is almost as foolhardy as Diogenes hoping to put a successful end to his search in Congress.

There is always one safe choice: tortilla española. Almost everyone has tried it. As a snack. In a tapas bar. For breakfast. It is Spain's answer to the all-purpose quick food: a potato-egg concoction that proves that quiche can have machismo -- and still meet vegetarian needs.

But I cannot leave well-enough alone. So, I have managed to tart up this crustless tart. I offer my very hammy version of tortilla española.

1/4 cup high quality olive oil
1-1/2 pounds of new potatoes, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound sliced ham, sliced in thin strips
1 red sweet pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow sweet pepper, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
dozen eggs, beaten
sea salt
freshly-ground pepper

1. Heat the oil in a very large cast iron skillet. It should be very hot. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium, stirring occasionally. Do not brown the potatoes. After 10 minutes, add the onion. Continue the same process for an additional 5 minutes, until the vegetables are beginning to soften.

2. Add the peppers and ham to the skillet. Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Pour the vegetables and ham into the bowl with the eggs. Then return the mixture evenly to the skillet. Let the mixture cook for about 2 minutes to set the bottom of the mixture. Cook at medium for about 20 minutes -- until the mixture is almost set. Flip the tortilla over and cook for an additional 5 minutes until the mixture is set.

4. Flip on to a warm plate. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

5. Cut the tortilla into wedges. Serve with a spicy salsa and warm tortillas.

My addition, of course, is the ham and the peppers -- with a tip of my sombrero to Mexico.

Purists will quail. But this is how we develop new dishes -- some good, some not so much.

After all, without a bit of experimenting quiche lorraine would never have evolved into the gastronomic treasure that we have today: canadian bacon and pineapple quiche.

Who says that Canadians and Americans do not know good food when we see it?


glorv1 said...

That really sounds delish. I may just have to try it. I have some potatoes waiting to be used. 12 eggs though is a lot. I will just shorten the recipe a little. Why thank you very much Steve. I'll let you know what my husband thinks of it.Good Night Jiggs.

Steve Cotton said...

Gloria -- It is easy to convert. If you are cooking for just you and your husbamd, a 4-egg tortilla should work fine. But be certain to reduce the size of te skillet. If you make the 12-egg recipe, it is great for leftovers. The Spanish eat it as a cold snack, as well as a dinner.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I grew up calling omelets tortillas,and eating tortillas espanola. Yum, they are also good with kidney beans, it doesn't seem like it should be but it is.

Steve Cotton said...

Theresa -- I suspect that tortilla española would be good with a variety of ingredients. After all, it is merely an omelet of sorts.

Nancy said...

If you like ham you will get along famously in Mexico.

Steve Cotton said...

Nancy -- I love ham. That probably comes from the fact that I was not allowed to have pork products when I was growing up.

Michael Dickson said...

Steve, I´ve tried to hold my tongue. I really have. But a blog devoted to an upcoming move to Mexico (I still have my doubts on that, but let´s not digress) which starts running recipes has seriously (and I mean seriously) lost its way, its mission, its vision.

That´s the bad news. The good news is that there is a solution. Blogger lets you open as many blogs as you desire. I have a whole passel.

In order to maintain the focus on this blog which appears to be, uh, a move to Mexico at some, uh, time in the future, open another blog that focuses on recipes. And perhaps a third dealing with walks in the park with Mr. Jiggs.

The sky is limitless. And it´s all free.

aighmeigh said...

This sounds fantastic... and fits in perfectly with my culinary obsession!! I'll have to test it out--and I think it's something that my picky kiddo will even eat!

Anonymous said...

that looks delicious but i already have enough trouble turning over a 3 egg omelette without it falling apart, how the heck do you flip a 12 egger with a lb. of ham? i know you're a great cook so you must have some secret as to how to do this.

have a great day!


Steve Cotton said...

Michael -- You have a good point, and one I struggle with. But my response is too long for a comment. I will post something later today.

Aighmeigh -- This would probably be a great kid dish. When it is sliced, it looks like cake or pie. Fun food. And, with the exception of the jalapeño, everything is quite mild.

Teresa -- When I make the dozen egg size, I ususally cheat with the flip. I slide it on a plate, then invert the plate. Works every time.

Nancy said...

I don't know why it is that Michael feels like it is ok for him to be so rude. He acts as though his way is the only way. I personally think that we are all multi-faceted people and it only makes sense that your blog reflect that.

If he wants to have multiple blogs to represent his different interests, that's fine. But you don't have to!

And the sarcasm about whether you'll actually move or not, well I am tired of that, too.

Steve Cotton said...

Nancy -- Thanks for the comment. I am going to do a quick post later this week on blog topics. I suspect I will keep right on what I am doing.