The seemingly endless stream of kale has tapered off lately, and I instead find myself looking for drawers and shelves and nooks in which to store the backlog of potatoes that has been building, insidiously and inexorably, over the last few weeks. I really didn’t notice it happening and then suddenly I was thinking of taking a few handfuls of purple fingerling potatoes to give my friend’s wife when we all met up at a bar to celebrate her birthday. Because nothing says, “30 is the new 20” like a bunch of multi-colored potatoes. Alternatively, I was considering hooking them all up with copper wires and using them as a power source to light my house in case of electrical outages.
Potato batteries feel a little survivalist though, and the point of this project is to cook things, not live off the grid in a sod house where all the furniture is made of surplus World War II K-Rations to save space.
So, right. It may be short-sighted folly, but I think I’ll trust the lovely folks who administer Boston’s electrical distribution system to keep things up and running, and go ahead and use my potatoes for culinary purposes. Won’t my face be red when the zombie apocalypse comes and I’m left with candles. Obviously I’ll keep a few russets around to load my potato cannon when the first wave of free-range undead comes, but beyond that we’re going to go ahead and cook the vast majority of the available potatoes.
Moving on to the actual cooking portion of this post, I also had an onion sitting around, so I decided to make a frittata to use up the potatoes. But did I decide to make a frittata? Or did I make a Spanish Tortilla? One thing I did not make was a Mexican Tortilla. Those look like this:
So what did I make. What is the difference. Well, they both involve egg. A Spanish Tortilla is a popular tapas item that always involves egg, potato, and onion. I believe this is the version that is cooked completely on the stove top, which means you have to, at some point, flip the whole thing onto a plate and return it to the skillet upside down to finish cooking it. I used to do it this way, and some hilarious messes resulted. Now I do it the much easier, cleaner way, which I think is also more characteristic of the Italian, “frittata” version: you start it on the stove in a skillet, then slide the whole skillet in the oven and broil it for a few minutes to finish it. So, so, SO much easier. The other difference, as I understand it, is that a frittata can have pretty much anything in it as long as it is held together with egg. My roommate Shae also suggested that there may be a defining egg-to-other-stuff-ratio in each version, but I haven’t found anything about that.
So here’s how it played out:
I decided to do caramelized onions. There are varying opinions on how this is accomplished. I can say with certainty that being impatient because you are hungry and turning the heat up too high then turning it down to absolutely no effect and ultimately burning the onions to cinders is not the best method. So right, first batch in the trash. Head out to the store to get more onions. Get extras. Okay, second try: Lower heat, add oil, butter. Let the onions alone enough that they actually have time to brown, but move them around before they burn. Do this intricate onion dance for 15 minutes or so until they look/smell/taste like caramelized onions. If they end up looking/smelling/tasting like burned onions, get another one of the extras you wisely bought and try again. Happily, today, two tries was all I needed.
In the meantime, I roasted myself two russets-worth of potato slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Which is to say, I sliced them as thin as I could, tossed them in olive oil, then put them in the oven on a cookie sheet with salt and pepper at 450 for 15-20 minutes. Good to go.
I tossed the onions and potatoes together with some roasted tomatoes (because of course I got a container of grape tomatoes in the Box of Wonders right after I bought some), put them back in the skillet and turned the heat to medium-high. I whisked together a bunch of eggs, dumped them over the potato mixture and let it cook for a few minutes. Then you just turn on the broiler and slide that baby in there for 5-7 minutes. The top will puff up and brown when it’s done.
I forgot to add salt and pepper to the eggs (How do you forget that? Well, I was hungry. And when I’m hungry, I suck at absolutely everything except eating.) and so this was a little bland, but the consistency was exactly what it should have been and there are potatoes in use. I haven’t made one of these since I lived in North Carolina, so that’s about ten years ago. Could’ve gone worse. The fun thing here is you can add anything you want and it’ll taste good. Bacon would have been lovely, for instance. Mushrooms. Spinach. Whatever!
If you want to try it, here’s what I did:
2 russet potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 medium onion, halved and cut in 1/2 inch wedges
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 batch roasted grape tomatoes (optional)
Toss potatoes in 2 Tbsp olive oil, put them on cookie sheet and sprinkle with S/P. Roast at 450 for 15-20 minutes until tender.
Heat oven-safe 10-inch skillet to medium with remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil and the butter. Add onions and cook ~15 minutes, stirring only occasionally and scraping bottom as you stir. Add a little water if it starts to dry out and scrape the bottom to deglaze.
When the onions are at your desired consistency and flavor, toss them in a bowl with the cooked potatoes and tomatoes and return to the skillet. (Turn on the broiler and make sure you have a rack placed 6-10 inches below it) Whisk together at least 6, but up to 8 eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper. (I start with 6 and added more as I needed them) Add eggs to the skillet and increase the heat to medium high. Move the eggs to allow uncooked portions to, you know, cook. When the bottom and sides are cooked but the top is still liquid, put the skillet in the oven and broil for 5-7 minutes until the top is puffed and brown.
Loosen the sides and bottom before flipping onto a plate if you want, or leave it in the pan. Depends on your presentation preference. Either is pretty. Eat it hot or cold. Both ways are tasty. Either way, enjoy your frittata and/or spanish tortilla!