When I was 19 (which was a depressingly long time ago!) I spent a long weekend in Madrid where, sat alone in the sunshine in the Parque del Retiro, I had my first tortilla española. At the time, I was hiding from my then-boyfriend, who had insisted on wearing his swimming shorts around the street as though they were clothes, leaving me mortified in a way that only teenagers can be. Although the boyfriend (and his swimming shorts) are long gone, my love for good Spanish omelette remains and it’s one of the staple dishes by which I always judge a new tapas restaurant.
This variation adds chorizo, peppers and peas (I’m a little addicted to peas) to make a great dish for a picnic, a pot luck or a light lunch/ dinner accompanied by a salad and a nice class of Rioja! This dish gets better over time, so it’s great to make a day or two in advance. It will also keep for several days in the fridge – so leftovers are to be encouraged!
This is the kind of omelette you can make small or large, shallow or deep depending on how many people you’re looking to feed. The quantities below make a 12″/ 30cm tortilla that’s a couple of inches deep and ideal for a big group.
A word on Chorizo! The chorizo I’m using here is a delicious cured sausage made with pork, salt and smoked paprika. In some areas it’s made with smoked chilis. Either way – it’s like a smoky Spanish salami. In the UK it’s really easy to find pre-sliced chorizo in the supermarket. In the US it’s much more difficult and shouldn’t be confused with the chorizo sausage you find at the butcher’s counter that needs cooking before you can eat it. The best source that I’ve found in the US is World Market.
Washing up level: ↔Medium – one chopping board, two frying pans, a large mixing bowl
Time investment: 15 minutes to prep, then about 45mins of cooking time – you’ll need to be pretty engaged throughout.
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 15 eggs (no – that’s not a typo!)
- 225g (8oz) frozen peas
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 160g (6oz) chorizo (either pre-sliced or cut into thin slices)
- 500ml (1pint) olive oil (you can use any oil you want – I just think this has a better flavour)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1.3kg (2lbs) white potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- In your largest frying pan, over a medium-low heat, add a thin layer of olive oil, then all the potatoes, followed by the remainder of the oil. Don’t forget the oil expands as it heats, so ultimately the oil will cover the potatoes. Put a lid on the pan and cook until the potatoes are cooked through (about 20-30 mins). Every so often, use a slotted spoon to bring the potatoes from the bottom of the pan to the top so they all cook evenly. You don’t want the potatoes to crisp or brown – if this is happening, lower your heat
- While the potatoes are cooking, use your second pan to sauté the chorizo slices over a medium heat. They will give out plenty of fat. After a few minutes, remove the chorizo from the pan with a slotted spoon, and sauté the onions in the chorizo fat until soft.
- Remove the onions from the pan and add the chopped peppers. If necessary – steal a teaspoon of oil from the potatoes. Cook the peppers for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften, then add the peas. Cook until the peas have thawed.
- When the potatoes have cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan and place onto a plate covered with several sheets of kitchen towel to drain. Remove the oil from the pan and reserve.
- In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs with some salt and pepper (at this point I often add some chopped or dried parsley, chives, thyme and oregano) then add the chorizo, peppers, onion and peas. Finally add the potatoes and stir until well mixed.
- At this point – pre-heat your oven to 380°f (190°C)
- Add the full mixture back into your large pan (which should be well coated with oil – if not add a spoonful from the potato oil) and cook over a medium heat. Every couple of minutes give the mixture a stir to bring the cooked egg up to the top (think scrambled eggs).
- As the omelette starts to set, remove from the heat and place in the oven until fully cooked (10- 20 mins). Test the centre with a skewer – the same way you’d check if a cake was cooked.
- Turn out of the pan onto a plate, slice and serve.