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Photograph: Time Out
Photograph: Time Out

Three-Ingredient Recipe: Nieves Barragán Mohacho’s Spanish tortilla

Written by
Kate Lloyd

Welcome to our cookery series Three-Ingredient Recipe, where London chefs share the tastiest, simplest dishes they know. Today Nieves Barragán Mohacho of Sabor is taking charge with a hearty Spanish classic that you can spice up with store cupboard essentials. It serves four. 

Sabor’s tortilla

Making a tortilla is a long journey. Although the final cooking is quick, you will need to be well organised and have lots of pans on hand. A tortilla welcomes anything, so once you’ve mastered the three-ingredient basic potato and onion mix, you can be adventurous with what you add to it: peppers, asparagus, leftover roast vegetables, chorizo. You can eat it hot but some people prefer to eat it the day after. It’s the best for late-night munchies.’

What you need to buy

1. Three onions, julienned

2. Four medium potatoes, peeled, halved lengthways, then cut into 3mm slices.

3. Six medium eggs.

What you need to do 

1. Put two tablespoons of oil into a pan on a low heat, then add the onions with a pinch of salt. Caramelise the onions very slowly until they are dark golden brown. Exactly how long this will take will depend on your pan, but you can’t rush it – go for around 30 minutes.

2. Put at least 3cm of oil into another large non-stick pan on a low-medium heat. Season the sliced potatoes on the chopping board and add to the pan of oil: don’t overcrowd it – cook them in two batches if you need to. Cook until they start to get slightly soft and golden – you don’t want fried potatoes. Remove to a bowl or plate using a spider or a slotted spoon, and cook the second batch, if necessary.

3. It’s important to make the tortilla mix while the onions and potatoes are still warm, as this will give your tortilla better flavour (make sure it’s not hot, though: you don’t want scrambled eggs!). First, mix the cooked onions and potatoes together, then whisk the eggs and add to the potato-onion mix. Leave to sit for at least ten-15 minutes. The potatoes will start to absorb the egg, and their juices will mix together.

4. Put two tablespoons of olive oil into a medium-sized pan about 4cm deep, and place on a medium heat. When it starts to get warm, pour in the tortilla mix, and reduce the heat to low. You will see the edge of the tortilla start to set: this is when it’s ready to turn.

5. Try to get a plate just slightly bigger than your pan – or use your pan lid if it has no rim. It’s best to turn the tortilla off the heat: hold the pan close to you, place the plate on top, then confidently, in one smooth move, turn it over. Bring the plate close to the pan and carefully slide the tortilla back in, using a wooden spoon to judge it into place if you need to. It’s not easy – but you’ll get better with practice.

6. Turn the heat back on and leave the tortilla to cook for another couple of minutes, then turn again, using the same method but cleaning your plate or lid first. I normally turn a tortilla three times, so it develops as minimal a crust as possible. You can check how cooked your tortilla is by poking it with a toothpick. Some people like it well done but I like it nice and juicy. You can also press it with you finger: if it rises up at the sides, it is still too eggy. When it is done, turn it out a final time and leave to rest for ten minutes before slicing.

7. Serve sliced, with the aioli on top and a nice piece of bread and some salad leaves – like little gem – on the side. Refrigerate any leftover tortilla and take it out of the fridge for an hour or so before eating.

Find out how to make Tom Aikens’s sweetcorn pancakes or Keshia Sakarah’s green plantain chips.

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