The Great Tortilla Fiasco

During the summer months when we had guests staying for long periods, our three hens obligingly provided three beautiful free range eggs every day. They are a happy little band, strutting around importantly and sending our doomed vegetable seedlings into orbit with their fearsome claws. Being sociable creatures, they often go to visit our new neighbours’ three hens and spend a while exchanging news and views.

Egg production fell off a month or so ago, down to two a day, which we put down to one of them taking a well-earned break. But strangely, at the same time, our neighbours found that their three hens were apparently laying four eggs a day. You may draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, back to the present, when the hens seem unaware that they are entitled to a winter break, and they are still firing out eggs at the rate of three a day, which is far more than the two of us can eat, nor do we know anybody locally who wants eggs; virtually everybody in this little corner has their own chookies. One of our summer guests was Miguel, a lovely Spaniard and a brilliant cook, and he made the best tortillas I’ve ever eaten. His recipe is simple, and involves cooking chunks of potato, and garlic, very slowly in oil until the potatoes are tender enough to mash. Once they are cool, he beats in eggs and salt, and cooks them in the cast iron frying pan. When the bottom side is cooked, he flips the tortilla onto a plate and returns it to the pan to finish cooking on the raw side.

Our egg mountain was starting to become unmanageable, so yesterday I decided to tackle it by making tortillas and freezing them. As I was cooking them in bulk I cheated a little and cooked the garlic and potatoes in the pressure cooker, with a little water and plenty of olive oil. When they were cooled and mashed, I beat in the eggs and began the Great Tortilla Fry. The first one sizzled fragrantly, and when I could shake it around in the pan and it was beginning to set, I took a large plate, flipped it ……. …. and it landed with an unpleasant flumping noise and disintegrated into an eggy mess. That wasn’t meant to happen. I scraped the mess back into the pan and crushed it together with a spatula and continued cooking it. The result was a cross between scrambled eggs and a broken omelette.

I tried again, with the same result. And again! I knew it was wrong, but couldn’t work out why. It had looked so simple when Miguel did it. Next time instead of flipping the thing, I put it under the grill to finish cooking, which it did, so I finished off the whole batch that way.

But I wasn’t happy. There were still 20 eggs waiting to be used up and I wanted to do it properly. I went to bed in pensive mood, reliving the nasty flumpy noise, the sticky plates, the total failure of what should have been a simple project. There had to be a simple solution.

Which, of course, there was. I expect you worked it out. Sliding the cooked part of the tortilla onto the plate before flipping it, not flipping the uncooked part onto the plate. Doh! Mind you, it was a full moon last night. That could explain it. Must go, next batch ready for cooking.

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6 thoughts on “The Great Tortilla Fiasco

  1. Why is it all so simple once you have gone to bed having struggled with something all day…..

    I must try mashed spud tortilla…..I’ve only ever made the sliced spud variety.

    Potato scones might use up some eggs and freeze well.

    • My brain was definitely in neutral! Can’t imagine how I could have been QUITE so stupid! Now that the freezer is overflowing with tortillas, I’ll follow your advice and address the next glut to potato scones – I love them.

  2. They are one of the few ways that egg dishes freeze successfully. The other is quiches.

    I could make lemon curd and meringues – if we had any eggs left! We were down to a manageable six this morning, and three of them have gone into a chocolate potato cake.

  3. I cannot tell a lie but I love tortillas and nowadays I always do the finishing off under the grill. I know it’s not strictly speaking right but it’s such a faff doing the turning over via a plate. The getting out is easy but the putting back often went a bit off.
    And I can grate some extra cheese on them before grilling.
    I like the easy life sometimes.

    • That’s good to hear, coming from you, Pip. It is quite difficult to get the thing back into the pan from the plate, because (a) the frying pan handle prevents the plate from being properly in contact with the plate, (b) the frying pan is red hot and (c) a cast iron frying pan is VERY HEAVY to hold in one hand! Now I know that you finish yours under the grill, I’m going to follow your lead. 🙂

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