Today on Food and Travel week we will be talking to Stephanie Dosch about how to make the perfect tortilla. Her blog The Viatrix, is all about her travels and life as an expat in Madrid. Lately, she has been on a mission to test out tortilla recipes and find out the secrets to making a delicious tortilla.
Resign yourself to it: If you’re traveling in Spain, you’ll probably eat tortilla at some point. Whether you seek it out at a specialist bar or the waiter hands you a slice with your vino, tortilla is practically inescapable.
Not that that’s a bad thing.
In fact, in many bars, it’s the best option. Faced with globs of mayonnaise-y potato salad? Suspect pig parts slathered in sauce? When in doubt, order tortilla. This hardy, potato-stuffed omelet always satisfies, even in its pre-packaged, commercial incarnations. And a good, house-made (or homemade) tortilla can’t be beat.
Classic tortilla contains potatoes and often some onion for flavor. For me, the onion is key; I find the spud-only versions muy bland. Home cooks often change it up by adding whatever’s in the fridge: a bit of chorizo; some leftover seafood; chopped spinach or zucchini—you can pretty much encase anything in egg.
This practice of tortilla-ing leftovers also translates to some regional variations that use local ingredients. A Valenciano, for example, might throw in some paella. A Murciana could add seasonal veggies from the garden. In Granada, look out for tortilla de Sacromonte, made with sheep’s brains and sweetbreads… yum?
Personally, I forgo the offal and stick to less-mysterious fillings. Tortilla de bacalao (salt-cod) is the standard first course in every Basque cider-house—and tells me that a steak as big as my head is up next. In the Bierzo region of northern-central Spain, the classic tortilla de patatas comes stewed in tomato sauce, served in an earthenware dish—delish. Also from central Spain: tortilla paisana, a kitchen-sink version that includes a whole bunch of vegetables, plus meat like chorizo or cured ham, in addition to the potatoes and onions.
Meanwhile, the people of Pamplona simplify, opting instead for a layer of ham and cheese in the middle of their tortillas, and most bars serve both this and the classic kind. Since it just so happens that my sister-in-law hails from the land of running bulls, and makes a mean tortilla de jamón y queso, I asked her to show me her technique. You can find the recipe over on my blog, theviatrix.com.
Eating the finished product the other day got me to thinking about what American variations I could concoct if I ever moved back. Hamburger and cheese… Bacon and cheese… Cheese and cheese… If you have any other ideas for me, I’d love to hear them!
About the Author:
Stephanie Dosch has been living in Madrid’s Malasaña neighborhood since 2005, where she is a writer, English teacher, and tour Leader. You can find the recipe for tortilla de jamón y queso over on her blog theviatrix.com. Be sure to follow along with the Tortilla Smackdownseries on her blog.