Today I lived my owned sour grapes fable. You remember: the Aesop story about the fox who can’t reach a bunch of grapes that are taunting him from a high vine. In the end, the fox gives up and consoles himself by saying, “Those grapes were probably sour anyway.”
Well, the tortilla flipper is probably overrated anyway.
Like the fox, I won’t find out whether this wondrous invention is as tasty as it looked on the online pages of a Spanish product vendor. It looks like two skillets hinged together that make flipping a classic Spanish tortilla (savory stovetop egg pie) easy. Like, you won’t burn your forearms as you upturn the eight not-quite-cooked eggs onto a plate and then slide the tortilla back into the skillet and you won’t make a goeey, cementy, eggy mess as the uncooked bits goop out of the skillet…
Nah, what would be the fun of that? Why take a muscle-y, down and dirty, daredevil sacrifice for the sake of food and turn it into a clinical, tidy, bloodless, soul-less operation?
Never. Not even if I could spare $50 to purchase another piece of kitchen equipment I have no room for.
So, screw the tortilla flipper. Or unscrew it. Or unhinge it. Forget it.
The tortilla itself, however, is a worthwhile enterprise. This is a case where the “easy” in “Hot, Cheap & Easy” is relative. A relative lie, actually. Making a Spanish tortilla takes time, patience, some strength and a set of stones. However, when you make a good one, your guests will lavish you with praise, something I am quite fond of.
And since I can make it the night before an event, it’s handy and portable.
The classic tortilla española is potato and egg, but this one, inspired by Penelope Casas’ recipe for Tortilla Torcal in her book Tapas makes it a mightier, spicier dish that really dresses up a tapas night.
Tortilla con chorizo y petit pois
1/2 cup olive oil
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 tsp salt (optional, reduce or leave out if the ham is very salty)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1/4 lb. spicy Spanish-style chorizo sausage, peeled and diced
1/4 Cup ham steak or other cured/fully cooked ham, diced
1/4 Cup frozen peas, cooked
Heat the oil in a skillet and add potatoes, lower heat and cook potatoes slowly, turning frequently. When they start to brown, they are more than done. In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the salt. Drain the potatoes, reserving the oil. Add the potatoes to the egg mixture and mix just barely (this gets the temperatures even).
Heat one tablespoon of oil to the skillet and sauté the onion until tender. Add the chorizo and the ham and cook just until the chorizo begins to release its oil (it will get bitter if allowed to cook more). Add the peas and cook for another few minutes. Stir very gently into the eggs and let sit for at least five minutes. Meanwhile, make sure your skillet (9” or 10” made of a material that is not too heavy!) is really clean, then heat two more tablespoons of oil and pour in the egg mixture. When you see the egg begin to cook on the edges, lower heat to medium low and cover. Allow to cook for ten minutes, until the center is thickened.
This is where it gets challenging. Get a plate that will fit smoothly to the edges of the skillet. The plate should be flat-surfaced, with no changes in levels. Take the skillet to the sink, put the plate on top and, with your hand firmly on the plate, turn the skillet over so the tortilla turns onto the plate (this is where the goo can scald your forearm, if you are unlucky or not careful). Then slide the tortilla back into the skillet, wet side down. Put back on heat and cover, continuing to cook until done (another five minutes or so). In the meantime, wash and dry the plate. When the tortilla is done, flip it back onto the plate and behold its golden loveliness.
Allow to cool (I actually refrigerate overnight after it cools, wrapping in foil or plastic wrap or both). Serve at room temperature, or warm; it’s good at any temperature. I usually cut into squares for a tapas party and stick the squares with toothpicks to get people started.
NB: Penelope Casas and other Spaniards prefer their tortillas a bit juicy inside. I find that Americans are too concerned about salmonella for that (and probably rightly so), so I cook it through. If you know your egg source, you should be fine cooking it rare!
Also, I really, truly thought the tortilla flipper was cool, but I think I am way cooler for doing it Old School. Sour grapes? You make the call.