So, I have previously chronicled my dubious attempts to make torta—the layered potato and egg savory pie found in Spanish restaurants. Earlier results have been something closer to a breakfast scramble, edible, but not even close to the showy and tasty dish known for wowing diners with a “how do they do that” and “yum” response.
So, I used three russet potatoes that were about the size of a stick of butter, or half the size of a baseball probably about four ounces each. I peeled them and then sliced them thin—about one eighth of an inch. I sprinkled them with salt, and then mixed them around to distribute the salt.
Next, I chopped half an onion and fried it and a clove of garlic on the stove on medium heat in about a half an inch of olive oil. After the onion became clear and started to shrink, I added the potato slices one by one, trying to keep them separate. I let them fry until they became clear, then opaque and then started to brown just a tiny bit, about 10 minutes, pushing the potato slices around with a fork just a little bit to keep them from sticking, but not much. One advantage of using slightly less potato is that they fit in the pan and don’t overlap and stick together as much while cooking.
Meanwhile, I cracked five eggs and beat them lightly, breaking the yolks.
When the potatoes started to brown, I removed them and most of the onion to a bowl with a slotted spatula and let them cool and drain for a few minutes. After the potatoes had cooled a bit, I transferred them to the bowl with the egg and gently mixed them with the egg. I then poured the egg and potato mixture back into the oil over medium heat.
This time, I let the torta fry on the first side a bit longer than I had in the past. When it looked like top was starting to cook and was not so liquid, I slid a spatula under the torta to make sure it was loose and then slid it onto a plate. It slid! In one piece! I then flipped it back onto the oil, and let it cook for a few more minutes. Then I slid it out of the pan and onto a plate.
Success! Torta in one piece, on a full size dinner plate. Yummy taste as well.
Look at that layering!
- I think salting and sweating the potato is an important step. While the recipes say, “salt lightly”, I think that depends on how one defines “salt lightly”. I think a few shakes from a salt shaker might not be enough, and maybe as much as a Tablespoon of salt for three potatoes might be in order. I think letting the sliced potatoes sit after salting might be important as well. Something to continue experimenting with.
- Medium heat seems to do well. Perhaps high heat would result in a more delicate torta, but for now, I’m OK with Medium.
- The first side needs to be well cooked before flipping—I think this is a big part of where my tortas were falling down (or apart).
- The second side doesn’t have to cook too long.
- There is plenty of left over olive oil. Save it for the next torta. (I put it in the fridge in an air tight container.)
My current version of a Torta recipe.
3 4oz Potatoes
1-2 cups Olive Oil
½ an Onion
1 clove Garlic
1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon Salt
Peel and thin slice potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
Using a large frying pan, heat olive oil to medium heat, about ½ inch deep. Chop onion and garlic and sauté until onion is clear and starts to shrink. Add potato slices one at a time, distributing around the pan. When potatoes appear cooked, remove from oil and allow to drain and cool slightly.
Whisk eggs in a bowl, breaking all yolks. Add potatoes to egg mixture and gently stir to make sure all potatoes are coated. Pour potato and egg into heated olive oil. Saute on one side until mostly cooked, about 5 minutes. Then slide torta onto a plate, flip back into oil on uncooked side and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Slide out of pan. Eat hot or cold.
Makes 6-8 servings as a side or light meal.