tortilla de patatas

tortilla de patatas rustic style, OK?

It was all ready to go so well.

Only the night before I’d watched talented, charismatic and effortlessly handsome chef Omar Allibhoy throw together one of his childhood favourites: Spanish omelette. Just eggs, onions and potatoes required, but his version contained chorizo and olives. Myself and a host of other foodie people were attending an event laid on in celebration of Olives from Spain. We’d gathered at The Lounge in Balham to enjoy some great food and try olives in a three course meal. I’d quickly found a corner with two bloggers I’d not had the pleasure of meeting before, affable Ally from Dinneraholic and the splendidly-named Gary from London Foodaholic. We downed Tio Pepe whilst enjoying some fine tapas, which was followed by the omelette demonstration. We then settled down to a sardine salad with olives, sea bass with olives, chicken with olives, chocolate-olive truffles… all of it was so good. Look at my happy face!

It was clear from Omar’s presentation that beyond a PR event he truly loved olives and they’ve always been part of his life. I had to smile when he said to try them on small children so they develop the taste early on: my 2 year old girl adores them, nibbling round the stones; and my son has a legendary appetite for them, even receiving jars of them as Christmas presents. It can honestly be said olives are a big favourite in our house.

omar allibhoy cooks up a Spanish feast
Note Omar’s perfect tortilla at the front

I managed to snaffle a piece of Omar’s omelette. It tasted amazing. It was still a touch runny in the centre – perhaps “moist” is a better word. I’d always had them thoroughly cooked and struggled to achieve the right results. His way – taught to him by Ferran Adria – was to not bother the eggs at all, and cook them gently. I had to try cooking it myself, so that was dinner sorted for the very next day. I had some leftover roast pork belly from the weekend so with a little paprika seasoning that substituted for the chorizo. So far, so good.

It was all going really well, until it came to flipping time. I’ve been using the same non-stick frying pan for the past 5 years, and I probably cook with it at least twice a week. But tonight, when I need the non-stickiness more than ever so I can flip it over, it gave up. It just wouldn’t turn out.

my poor destroyed, beloved 30cm non-stick frying pan
my poor destroyed, beloved 30cm non-stick frying pan

If you browse round this site you may well see the frying pan holding many of my dinners. It’s had to go. I will miss that pan.

How could I rescue dinner then? Lee had specifically asked about putting it under the grill, which Omar flatly rebutted. Flipping was the way to go. But flipping was out, so it had to go under the grill. And then getting it out of the pan was a scraping affair. Hence the raggedy mess in the lead photo. That aside, it tasted great. Tender potatoes, sweet onions, oozy eggs… and of course sweet, salty olives. If only I could’ve cooked it the way I meant to. See you on the other side of a new pan, I guess.

Based on a recipe by Omar Allibhoy. His version can be seen here. Thanks to Storm Comms for putting on a great night.

Tortilla de patatas (serves 4):

1 large onion, sliced

3 potatoes, peeled and sliced

200g cold roast pork belly

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cornflour

About 12 olives, halved

8 eggs

  1. Get a pan really hot and add a splash of oil (olive oil, naturally). Add the onion and fry for a couple of minutes until starting to colour. Add the potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a bowl. Crack the yolks but don’t bother stirring. Season and move on to the pork. Put the paprika and cornflour in a bowl and add a splash of water to make a thick paste. Add the pork and stir well to get it coated.
  3. Tip the onion and potato mix in with the eggs, and add a little more oil to the pan. Fry off the pork for one minute and then add the olives. Tip the eggy-potato mix back into the pan, lower the heat and give it a little shake to distribute everything. After about 5 minutes, if you have a working non-stick pan, flip the tortilla over using a large plate and cook on the other side for another minute or two until set. Otherwise pop under a hot grill. Serve with a zingy balsamic salad.

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