How NOT to Cook Tortilla de Patata, or How TO Make Fabulous Scrambled Eggs

For those of you whe don’t know, I spent 3 1/2 weeks in Spain during the summer between my Jr. and Sr. years of High School. There, I suffered from culture shock, drank my first calimotxo, and fell in love with bocadillos de tortilla de patatas (Potato Tortilla Sandwiches–they taste much better than they sound in English).

Ever since then, I have wanted to make this Spanish food. I tried asking for a recipe from Spain. It never materialized. I tried looking it up, but no self-respecting American cookbook has a recipe. Finally, more than 10 years later, I came across a wonderful website. Noticing that they had a “food” section, I searched for my tortilla. And they had it!!! And they had a podcast telling you how to make it!!

In joy beyond recounting, I decided to make it for my roommates last night. We got the ingredients, I listened to my podcast, and I was so excited. I haven’t been that excited about food for…well…since I can remember.

Though, in retrospect, the podcast was the first mistake. Anything that requires flipping something with 8 eggs and bunches of vegetables in it in a saucepan requires pictures. It just does. “Flip the tortilla,” is easy to say. It’s much harder to conceptualize when you’re faced with an eggy mass and a saucepan larger than any round, flat surface in your kitchen.

Anyway, I went to make my tortilla last night. 4 large potatoes, it called for. We only had small to medium potatoes, so I put in 5. 2 small corgettes (basically, zucchini, though not quite). I asked Anna if my zuchs were big or small, since I don’t eat enough zucchini to know the relative sizes of the ones I had. Mine were, apparently, medium to large. I put in 1 1/2. 1 long green pepper. Um…my green peppers only come in “fat” or “round” or “chunky,” but definitely not “long”. I put it in anyway.

The end result of this, the “vegetable” part of the cooking, was more vegetables than fit comfortable in my largest pan, with no room left for the eggs! Apparently, vegetables, like cars, clothes, and various other items, are smaller in Europe than in the US (except sheep–European sheep are HUGE!!)
Oh, well. I got out another pan. 2 Tortillas?

I then proceeded to cook the vegetables in oil. Lots of oil. Thank God it was olive. At least that has some redeeming value. Except when you haven’t cooked with oil in a while, and so you spatter it all over your hand, and end up stirring the tortilla with one hand while running the other under cold water.


At this point, I’m going to segue into the “flipping the tortilla” part of this lesson, or you’ll never get there, because I’ll ramble on and on forver.

So, I got to flip my tortilla. I added the eggs to the veggies and put it all back in the pan. Rather predictably (even I called this one), when I flip the tortilla, the runny part comes out of the pan by itself. Leaving the cooked and the somewhat cooked parts stuck to the bottom. I removed those parts and mixed them with the runny parts, and cooked it some more. Only to have the same thing happen BOTH of the other times I tried to flip it.

Finally, I gave up and served scrambled eggs. Much-loved scrambled eggs, I’ll have you know, but scrambled eggs nonetheless.

So, in summary, when flipping a tortilla de patata:

DO coat the pan you will be flipping from with olive oil before you flip

DO make sure said pan is uber-hot when you first put the mixture in, or it won’t matter how much olive oil you’ve put in.

DON’T flip without having seen AT LEAST a picture of someone flipping it before.

DON’T be afraid and flip the tortilla timidly–you must be aggressive with your tortilla and show it who’s boss.

And finally?

DON’T hesitate to change the menu at the last minute and serve scrambled eggs!!



Filed under My Days

6 responses to “How NOT to Cook Tortilla de Patata, or How TO Make Fabulous Scrambled Eggs

  1. Pingback: How to Assemble the Biggest List of ‘How To’ Blog Posts Ever - Reader Submissions Part III

  2. Cooking Tortilla for the first time is usually a sweet and sour expirience as the shape most certainly will be terrible but it will still taste good. So don’t dispair, it is just one of those things that you only learn by expirience. Even if someone describes you how to turn the tortilla with detail you will still feel lost the first time you do it yourself but once you learn it is a really rewarding expirience and if you try over and over and don’t quite get it, you can always buy one of those double friying pans that click one into the other making the turning expirience easy and relaxed(you can have a look here

    Regarding ingredients I wouldn’t worry too much of quantities. For example some people like it with more onion than others or even without onion at all. The only important thing is that the egg proportion is enough for the quantity of potato mixture – if you put the potato mixture in a bowl once it has been cooked the beaten eggs mixture should coat all the potatos -. Then every time you turn the tortilla you put 1/2 or 1 a table spoon of oil in the frying pan and when hot move the frying pan in circles so the oil covers all the base and a bit of the walls of the frying pan. And finally the most important thing you have to use a non-sticking frying pan.

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