Celebrate Spain's World Cup Win With Spanish Tortilla

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After Spain's narrow World Cup victory yesterday, it's likely folks in Madrid are still partying hard. Not only do the Spanish have the World's best football team; they also have the World's best hangover cure. It's called a Spanish tortilla, and it's essentially a thick omelet eaten either on its own or sliced up and placed in thin, long sandwiches called bocadillos. Luckily, Spanish tortillas are so easy to make at home that you can celebrate right along with Spain.

I stayed in Spain for two months in a study-abroad program one summer, and during my time there, I grew pretty fond of Spanish tortillas. The version my housemother made was my favorite: The thick tortilla was well-browned on both sides, but the inside was still slightly warm and runny. Inside were slivers of potato, onion, and bell pepper, each cooked until nearly macerated, so the flavors mingled with the creamy eggs. She made tortillas for us in the morning and for dinner too. But I loved eating them any time of day, preferably with a stack of toast to sop up all the eggy juices.

Here's how she made her tortilla: Start with one potato, one whole red bell pepper, and one Spanish onion. Cut the onion and bell pepper into inch-wide pieces. Skin the potato and cut it into thin, 1/4-inch-thick half-moons. Meanwhile, beat 6-8 eggs in a bowl with about a 1/4 cup of milk until smooth, and set aside.

Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add about 1/4 cup olive oil. A Spanish olive oil would work best, but whatever you have is fine. Once the oil is warm, add your vegetables. Fry them slowly over medium heat until the potatoes become soft and start to break down and the onions and peppers have rendered completely. It should take a while, probably 30 minutes or so. I remember watching my housemother do this step, and we'd sit in the kitchen and talk to her as the air filled with the scent of peppers and onions.

Once the vegetables are finished cooking, remove them from the skillet and drain any excess oil, leaving enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Return the skillet to the heat and add your eggs, then immediately add your vegetables and mix them around thoroughly. Over medium heat, cook the tortilla until the bottom sets, about 5-8 minutes. Meanwhile, warm your oven broiler. Once the bottom is cooked, transfer the skillet to the oven and broil until the top of the tortilla cooks, another 2-4 minutes. The inside should still be a little bit runny. But if you prefer it fully cooked, that's no problem either. (Note: Some people will say to sprinkle paprika on top of the omelet before you broil it, but I prefer not to. Whether you do is up to you.)

To serve, I like to slice the tortilla into pizza-shaped wedges and plate them with lots of toast. Or you can slice the tortilla into long pieces and place them inside baguette rolls for a traditional tortilla bocadillo.     

Viva Espana!

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