Friday, August 12, 2016

Spanish Omelet

Last year's post:  Cold Sesame Noodles with Cucumber
Two Years Ago:   Empanadas with Chicken, Corn and Zucchini

Although most people in the United States think of omelets as breakfast food, the Spanish omelet (or Spanish tortilla, not to be confused with Mexican tortillas) is a happy hour or dinner entree.  This omelet is one of the most common tapas items, found all over Spain.  A Spanish omelet closely resembles a frittata because it's cooked in a pan and then cut into wedges to serve.  Although it's typically fried in a fair amount of olive oil, then flipped and fried on the other side, this recipe is a lighter and simpler version.  It uses only the fat from the chorizo, and there's no flipping involved - it bakes in the oven, which makes it puff up beautifully.  It makes an easy, fast and delicious dinner.

One of my good friends in college spent a year studying in Spain.  When she returned, she made a traditional Spanish omelet for her buddies so we could try it out.  She fried potato slices and onions in a lot of olive oil, then added the eggs and let the bottom cook until brown.  She put an inverted plate over the frying pan with her hand on top, flipped the pan over so the omelet was on the plate, then slid the omelet back into the pan to brown the other side.  Impressive, but a little scary unless you don't care about your kitchen, which we didn't because we were in a college apartment, after all.

Anyway, as I mentioned this recipe has chorizo in addition to the potatoes, which really revs up the flavor. Make sure you buy Spanish chorizo - not Mexican chorizo - and take the paper casing off before slicing. If you do happen to buy Mexican chorizo by mistake (or can't find Spanish chorizo), just cook it and crumble it like Italian sausage and use it that way.  It'll taste a little different but will still be very good.

Shallots (a mild onion) are added to a parsley salad that goes on top of the omelet when served.  The lemon, shallots and parsley lend bright and tart notes that balance the omelet beautifully.

A brief discussion about pans - this recipe calls for a 7 or 8" nonstick ovenproof pan (or a larger pan if you're going to double the recipe to serve four).  I bought a cast iron skillet a few years ago to make cornbread, and it works perfectly for this recipe.  If you don't have one, consider buying one - they're cheap and they last forever.  Properly seasoned and cared for, they become perfectly non-stick.  All you have to do after making something is to rinse the pan with hot water (not soap) and scrub with a brush, then dry thoroughly and wipe with a drop of cooking oil.  I had absolutely no issue with taking the entire omelet out of the pan in one piece.  (Just don't use cooking spray, it becomes gummy and sticky and hard to remove.)

Spanish omelets are traditionally served either warm or at room temperature, so they're very versatile for parties (cut in small pieces) or family members who come home at different times.

printable recipe
Spanish Omelet
Serves 2

1 red potato, about 3-4” in diameter, scrubbed and cut into chunks
4 eggs
Salt and pepper
4 ounces Spanish chorizo, paper casing removed and sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
1 shallot, peeled and very finely sliced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Put the potato chunks in a pan of boiling salted water and simmer until just cooked through but not falling apart, approximately 8 – 10 minutes.  Drain in a colander.  Beat the eggs with a fork in a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.  Put the sliced shallot in a medium bowl with the lemon juice, some salt and pepper and the olive oil.  Stir and set aside for the shallots to soften while you make the omelet.

Heat a 7 or 8” nonstick (or cast iron) ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the chorizo slices and potatoes and cook until everything is lightly golden, 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Sprinkle the rosemary leaves into the pan, then immediately pour on the egg mixture.  Add the chorizo and potatoes on top, spreading out evenly.  Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake until the omelet is puffed and golden, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Remove the omelet from the pan and cut into pieces.  Add the parsley to the shallots and toss to coat.  Serve the omelet with some of the parsley salad on top.

The omelet may be served warm or at room temperature.

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