The eti­quette of an omelette

Whether you can whip up a feast for 50 in a jiffy or you aspire to the fi­nesse of haute cui­sine, try to de­velop your own way of cooking. This tor­tilla is a per­fect can­vas with which to start

The Guardian - Cook - - Back To Basics -

The singer-song­writer Tom Waits once said in an in­ter­view: “The way you do any­thing is the way you do ev­ery­thing.”

Granted, it sounds like the sort of cheesy in­ter­net meme you’d find Pho­to­shopped over a stock photo of cloud-puffed sky. But it’s ac­tu­ally a use­ful motto for life. We use it at Leon to re­mind our­selves that ev­ery lit­tle de­tail mat­ters. If you want your restau­rants to be spot­less, even that sign that says “Cau­tion – wet floor” bet­ter be so clean you would hap­pily use it as a clothes horse for your whites.

Per­son­ally, it’s also a use­ful re­minder that I’m more likely to be suc­cess­ful at things that lend them­selves to my way of work­ing. In the kitchen, for ex­am­ple, I’m good with big gen­er­ous flavours and lots of time pres­sure. I’ll cheer­ily pro­duce a Chi­nese ban­quet for 12 at a few hours’ no­tice. But give me a recipe that re­quires pa­tience or dex­ter­ity and I’ll soon be a sweaty, jud­der­ing heap of fail­ure.

To­day’s recipe is the per­fect ex­am­ple of this. I was not made to cook tor­tillas – or Span­ish omelettes, as we ad­mir­ing Brits know them. I can, and quite of­ten do, have a go. It’s a quick, easy supper, great for when we’re run­ning low on in­gre­di­ents, and popular with my chil­dren. But I’m too slap­dash to make it the thing of beauty it ought to be.

Jane’s tor­tilla recipe, be­low, is su­per-sim­ple and guar­an­teed to pro­duce de­li­cious re­sults – what­ever your culi­nary tem­per­a­ment. But we have added lots of de­tail to the recipe for the ben­e­fit of per­fec­tion­ists. If you’re the kind of cook who en­joys tak­ing your time and mak­ing ev­ery­thing just so, slice the onions and pota­toes pre­cisely, choose ex­actly the right pan, cook it and turn it care­fully – then your tor­tilla will be el­e­vated into some­thing sub­lime.


The size of the pan is im­por­tant. In Spain tor­tillas are in­vari­ably made in smaller pans. It is hard to make a tor­tilla that is a nice colour on the out­side, but not burnt, and just the right tex­ture in the mid­dle, not runny or over­done, us­ing a large pan. It is also hard to turn a large tor­tilla over with­out break­ing it.

This recipe is for a non­stick fry­ing pan 20cm in di­am­e­ter – you could stretch that to 22cm. If you only have a larger pan the recipe can be in­creased (for ev­ery ex­tra egg used in­crease the pota­toes by 100g). For big­ger pans, you might find it eas­ier to cook the top un­der a grill, rather than at­tempt­ing to turn the tor­tilla over.

Serves 2-4

400g waxy pota­toes

1 onion

50ml olive oil

4 eggs Salt and black­pep­per

1 Thinly slice the pota­toes to about 5mm thick­ness and dry well with kitchen roll. The skins can be left on if you are us­ing salad pota­toes. Peel and finely slice the onion. It is worth tak­ing the care to slice the pota­toes and onions finely as, with a recipe this sim­ple, the de­tails count. It makes a real dif­fer­ence to the fi­nal dish.

2 Heat the oil in the pan over a medium heat and add the pota­toes. Al­low the oil to bub­ble away gen­tly. Sea­son well. Cover the pan. If you find your pota­toes brown­ing, you can use more oil (in Spain they of­ten use prodi­gious quan­ti­ties and re­use it af­ter the pota­toes are done).

3 Cook for 10 min­utes be­fore stir­ring in the sliced onion. Cook slowly for an­other 10-15 min­utes or un­til the pota­toes are ten­der.

4 Place a sieve or colan­der over a bowl and tip the potato mix into it to drain off the oil. Al­low it to stand for a few min­utes while you beat to­gether the eggs in a bowl with a fork. Add the drained pota­toes and onions to the egg mix while they are still warm. Sea­son. At this point, if you have time, let the mix­ture sit for 10 min­utes so that the flavours of the egg and pota­toes min­gle.

5 Wipe out your fry­ing pan and add 2 tbsp drained oil. Heat un­til quite hot be­fore

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