Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tapas Recipes: Tortilla Española with Ají Amarillo

It is tapas month at foodies plus, my main--and favorite--social networking community. Everyone in the community is so kind and creative. So much so that I find tapas a perfect theme for the month of July. One tapas recipe or dish is made large and meant to be shared in small bites; sharing is kind. And since tapas means small bites the confines of the idea are pretty much endless, from a creative standpoint.

I am so thrilled to joining in the fun and bringing you my own small bite, my twist on a classic: Tortilla Española with Ají Amarillo paste. A tortilla usually means a very flat bread made with stone ground corn flour (masa) or wheat flour, and fried on a griddle. This type of tortilla is a wrap or vessel for delicious stuffing. A tortilla in Spain, at least a “Spanish style tortilla” is an entirely different thing. It is a light, fluffy omelet/thin egg pie that is often studded with cubed potatoes and will sometimes also include sauteed onions. I kept the dish to more or less the same formula, but I thought it would make for an interesting variation to fill the tortilla with spicy potatoes and caramelized onions. I topped it with minced green olives and a skewered slice of Bresaola (the closest thing I could find to Serrano Ham at my regular market; it seems like the beef equivalent of Serrano Ham). The combination of fluffy, spicy omelet with earthy potatoes, the richly nuanced musk of dry cured meat and briny olives was just perfect. Not to mention this dish is incredibly photogenic. Tortilla Española would probably be best enjoyed with a dry white wine. Don’t let me tell you what to drink, however; you do you. That’s the way I like it.

Learning how to make a Tortilla Española is a good tool to have in your culinary arsenal, especially if you have an interest in tapas, and/or enjoy entertaining. My method of cooking was adapted from a great little coffee table book I picked up awhile ago, Tapas Made Easy. The right equipment is very important, as I learned the hard way the first time I attempted this dish and it stuck completely to the inside of my enameled cast iron saucepan. A good ceramic nonstick pan is what’s needed. If you don’t have one you could bake your tortilla at 375 for 6 - 9 minutes (until top turns golden). This is supposed to be served cold and is much easier to portion out after it has completely cooled.

Tortilla Española


Makes 16 tapas

2 small potatoes, any variety
1/2 medium yellow onion, julienned
4 eggs
1 clove garlic
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Ají Amarillo paste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

For Garnish (optional, but highly recommended):
4 pitted Manzanilla olives, diced finely (you’ll serve only about ¼ olive per portion of tortilla)
1/3 lb sliced Serrano Ham or Bresaola (16 slices total, one for each serving)

Parboil the potatoes whole in their skin for about 10 minutes, depending on the size. You want them just shy of cooked. Transfer to your cutting board to cool, then dice up into about a 1/2 inch dice.
Heat a medium sized nonstick pan to medium heat and add ½ of the olive oil. To the pan add onions and saute for 2 -3 minutes. Add potatoes.
Stir to coat and saute for about 7 minutes. Add Ají paste and saute for another 3 or so minutes, until potatoes are fully cooked. Set cooked onions and potatoes into a sieve to cool and drain off excess oil.
As potatoes cool whisk together eggs and grate the garlic into the eggs. When onions and potatoes have cooled, add them to the egg mixture.
Bring the heat up to high in the same non-stick pan and add remaining olive oil.
Poor in egg/potato.onion mixture and cooked for 2 minutes. Flip omelet and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to cutting board.
Cut into squares and enjoy. This will make about 16 small servings.

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