Thursday, August 20, 2009

Spanish Tortilla Fail

The Spanish tortilla to the right is how they're supposed to look. Now picture that perfect tortilla shattered, poorly mixed, and over browned and you'll be close to imagining my effort at the dish. If you aren't familiar with the Spanish tortilla... and I don't think they're particularly popular in the States... it's a lot like a frittata, but with the frittata you cook the eggs and other ingredients all at once and fairly slowly... whereas with a tortilla you fry up potatoes and onions and whatever first, before mixing with the eggs and cooking the mixture very quickly. In addition, you fire the frittata under the broiler to finish the top, but flip the Spanish tortilla to brown it on both sides. I presume this results in significantly different textures between the two... and if I ever make a decent tortilla I'll let you know if that's true.

What I used was the Cook's Illustrated Spanish tortilla with Chorizo and scallions (subscription required), and I can't say I was happy with any of their decisions. Their "innovative" flipping method was dumb, and clearly part of that Cook's thing where they need some sort of alleged improvement to justify redoing a classic recipe. I mean, here is what they suggest: 1) slide half done tortilla from pan onto a plate 2) put second plate on top 3) flip 4) slide back into pan. I guess if you have a nice very deep 10" nonstick pan with a lid and gently sloping sides it will work O.K., but even so, I fail to understand why it's any easier than putting the plate on top of the pan and flipping it over that way... and then, if you're like me, and the only deep 10" non-stick pan with a lid that you have has fairly steep sides, you won't screw up your tortilla trying to defy physics. I actually didn't follow Cook's instructions on the first flip, because they seemed so stupid(and it went fine)... but when it was time to get the finished tortilla out, I wanted the best side up and tried to slide it out... to complete disaster.

Another aspect of their recipe that seems totally silly after the fact, is that the whole reason you need a lid for this recipe was because they didn't want to use a lot of oil when frying the potatoes and onions... but, in a recipe like Bittman's, you drain them after they're cooked... which isn't going to result in a lot of excess oil, and is significantly less complicated. It just seemed pointless.

Anyway, I won't be trying that recipe again... though I feel like I should give the Spanish tortilla another chance... maybe the Bittman recipe linked above?

photo by flickr user su-lin used under a Creative Commons license

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