tortilla de (sweet) patatas


when we visited barcelona last september, we spent our first evening just outside the city in my sister-in-law’s hometown, matadepera, relaxing and dining with her family.  her mother prepared us a sprawling spread of charcuterie, pan con tomate, and tortilla de patatas, and we stuffed ourselves fuller than i ever thought possible.  i didn’t know seemingly simple food could burst with such complex flavors, particularly the tortilla, which is not a corn or flour-based bean blankie (nickname credit: tom haverford) but rather a frittata filled with fried potato rounds and caramelized onions.  my brother and sister-in-law introduced us to the catalan concept of “el de la vergüenza” (roughly “the piece of shame”), the name for the last piece of food left on the plate that is all too often ignored because nobody wants to be greedy or gluttonous.  feigned politeness is not expected when el de la vergüenza is addressed; it is a call to action to eat the last piece, and i was more than willing to step up when it came to the last piece of tortilla.



since then, i’ve tried countless ways to reinterpret the humble spanish staple, focusing in particular on using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.  while i’ve found that it’s virtually impossible to make the tortilla taste bad (aside from overcooking the eggs), it is easy to jazz up with the addition of greens, herbs, and other seasoning.  when i made it yesterday, i added bacon because bacon makes almost everything better.  i’ve also baked my potato rounds instead of frying them to keep the whole30-approved.  aside from these minor adjustments, i think and hope i’ve stayed true to the roots of the humble but delicious meal.  eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, hot, cold, or room temperature (my preferred temperature); just know that if you make it, you will probably find yourself cooking it on a weekly basis from that point on.  don’t say i didn’t warn you.




Tortilla de (Sweet) Patatas

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 4 pieces sugar-free bacon (optional)
  • 3 Tbs olive oil or reserved bacon fat
  • 1.5 tsp salt + pepper to taste
  • 12 large eggs
  1. preheat oven to 425F.  peel potatoes and slice into rounds roughly 1/8″ thick.  prepare a large sheet tray with oil and arrange rounds on it.  dry roast for 20 minutes or until tender and lightly browned around the edges.
  2. if using bacon, cook it evenly in a sauté pan and set aside on a paper towel to cool.  reserve the bacon fat in the pan.
  3. dice the onions and add them to the pan with the bacon fat or olive oil, salt, and pepper.  cook on medium heat until soft and translucent.  remove from heat.
  4. once the sweet potatoes are cooked, add them and the bacon to the pan and toss to incorporate and evenly coat the potatoes in the oil/fat.
  5. scramble the eggs together in a large bowl, then pour them over the potatoes, onions, and bacon in the sauté pan.  cook on low-medium heat on the stove until the edges are set and only the center remains somewhat uncooked.  the time will vary according to your stove, so set a timer for 12 minutes initially, and use your discretion after that.
  6. once the edges are cooked, use a spatula to gently loosen the edges and bottom from the pan, then carefully slide the tortilla onto a large plate with the uncooked side facing up.  turn the pan upside down and place directly over the tortilla so the uncooked side is pressed against the inside of the pan.  with one hand on the pan’s handle and one on the bottom of the plate, flip the pan and plate to invert the tortilla into the pan.*
  7. return to the stovetop and cook for 2-4 more minutes.
  8. flip the tortilla back onto a plate and either enjoy immediately or refrigerate for later use.

*i’ve messed this step up many times, and it’s almost always salvageable–it just takes practice; i recommend doing it over the sink in case of any spills.  if a lot of runny egg ends up on the new top (the already-cooked side), simply turn it over again briefly after step 7.



try adding chopped spinach, garlic, smoked paprika, sun-dried tomatoes, or anything else you’d prefer to your tortilla.  just be ready to fight over el de la vergüenza.  as far as i’m concerned, there’s no shame in that game.

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