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The Modern Spanish Potato Omelet

February 11, 2012

After having lived and worked in Spain after I graduated from college, I learned how to make a pretty mean Spanish Omelet.  I’ve probably made that traditional omelet a dozen times over the years, and while I think it tastes fantastic, it takes way too long to make (over 2 hours) and seems fairly unhealthy.  In the traditional recipe I was taught over a decade ago, you basically fill your pan with thinly sliced potatoes, cover them completely with oil, and slowly cook them while soaking in oil.  After you’ve done this for about an hour or so, you take them out, combine them with eggs and go on to make your omelet.  Like I said, takes too long and not very healthy (although you may just see it here on the blog one day because it tastes great).

So, imagine my surprise when I came across a recipe for a “Postmodern Spanish Potato Omelet” from none other that Ferran Adria in the pages of Mens Health magazine.  For those of you not familiar with Mr. Adria, he is widely considered to be a creator and leader in molecular gastronomy – or the latest craze where food and science meet.  If you’ve ever been to a restaurant that served you something like “mushroom foam” or “olive oil pearls”, you can thank him.  While I freely admit to being a traditionalist with most of my food, I am more than happy to experiment with new techniques that save me time.  That’s where this recipe comes in.  I had to modify it a bit, because the first couple of times I made it, I ended up with an omelet that was just too dry.  Now, on to the recipe…

The FaT Modern Spanish Potato Omelet                      Print FaT Modern Spanish Potato Omelet

Based on the Ferran Adria recipe in Men’s Health, May 2011

Serves 6-8

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

5 oz  plain potatoe chips

8 eggs

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup  chicken stock

Find yourself the pan you want to make your omelet in.  This pan should be at least 10″ across and able to be placed in the oven.  Heat that pan over medium heat.  Add the first 2 Tbsp of olive oil and the chopped onion.  Saute the onions until they are soft and translucent.  You’ve got to watch your heat here because you don’t want them to crisp up.  That results in crunchy bits in your omelet that don’t feel like they belong.  And when you serve an omelet with unfamiliar crunchy bits, every one will assume they should thank you for leaving bits of egg shell in their slice of omelet!  Once you’ve sauted the onion, remove them from the pan and place them in a small bowl to cool.  Keep that pan handy and don’t worry about cleaning it off.  We’re going to be using it exactly as is.

If you have kids, here is where they will want to be involved.  Put those potato chips in a zip top bag, seal it and have the kids crush it with the backs of spoons or the flat part of the tenderizing hammer.  (My kids “accidentally” used the pointy side and beat up the bag pretty good, but it survived intact – thank God!)  Keep in mind we are only trying to get things crushed, not grind the chips into powder.  Make sure you (or your kids) contain their aggressiveness here!

In a bowl large enough to hold everything, crack the eggs and add the chicken stock.  I also add a generous pinch of kosher salt and a few turns fresh cracked black pepper from my pepper mill, but season things as suits you.  Using a long fork, a whisk or a handheld mixer, beat the egg mix thoroughly.  Add the cooled onions, (it only really needs about 5 minutes) and crushed potato chips.  Mix them together and let them stand for 5 minutes.  During that time, heat the pan back up over medium heat and add 2 more Tbsp of Olive Oil.  After giving things a chance to heat up, add the egg mixture.

Gently stir it the omelt for about a minute until it begins to set.  Then, move the pan so only 1/4 of it is over the heat.  Keep it there for 2 minutes.  You should see the part of the omelet mixture over the heat bubbling around the edges while the rest of the pan doesn’t.  Now, rotate the pan so the next 1/4 is over the heat and give it 2 minutes.  Repeat 2 more times until you cooked each quarter.

Now, you can proceed in one of two ways.  My preference is that you fire up the broiler in your oven to HI, making sure the top rack is as close to the heating element as it can get (and still allow you to put the pan in), and put your mix, pan and all under it.  Check it every minute.  You’ll know it’s done when you don’t see any obvious “wetness” at the top of the omelet.  Remove the pan from the oven (realizing that it is now SMOKING HOT), and slide your finished omelet on to a serving dish.

The second and more traditional way is to first run a spatula around the pan and slightly under it to make sure it will release.  Then, take a flat plate and place it over your omelet pan.  Carefully flip everything onto the plate and return the pan to the heat.  Now, gently slide the now overturned omelet back into the pan and allow it to cook for 1 1/2 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Slide it onto a serving dish and either cool to eat later or let it sit for about 5 minutes then serve.

As they say in Spain, “Buen provecho!” or simply “Bon Appetit!”

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