tortilla.jpgThe vagaries of a properly made Tortilla Española have plagued Gothamist for years. A thick egg based dish, a tortilla has a more robust structure than its slutty cousin, the omelet, and is traditionally made with only potato and egg. The addition of other vegetables (peppers, peas, chives and onions most frequently) or other leftover foodstuff--from noodles to ham--is also common in the Spanish home.

Having first encountered the bonne bouche in its native environs, we marveled at its versatility. Equally tasty hot or cold, eaten in hefty wedges for breakfast or bite-sized triangles before dinner, or chilled and tucked into a baguette for lunch, the tortilla was a great equalizer, welcome in any household at any time. We grilled our surrogate Spanish mother for a recipe and walked away with a "little of this, little of that" farce that produced a loose, eggy omelet, not the dense construction of tortillas past.

After much experimentation and many years, we've come to realize that the perfect tortilla is in the delicate interplay of ingredients and equipment. Potatoes should be lower in starch so that they hold their shape while frying- try red-skinned or round white potatoes . They should be sliced thinly and consistently and fried until tender but not crispy. When they are added to the beaten eggs, let them sit to absorb the mixture before pouring it into an extremely hot nonstick pan with sloping sides to ease the flipping process. Let the tortilla set at a high temperature before lowering the heat and slowly allowing it to cook through.

Flipping the tortilla is, for most cooks, the most difficult part of the process. A broken tortilla ruins the integrity of the dish and comes with some grave disappointment. Choose a large plate without a lip and shake the pan to loosen the disc. Position the pan over the plate and, using a spatula to guide its descent, tenderly nudge the tortilla off the skillet. Very carefully cover the plate with the pan, flip and return to the flame.

It takes a good bit of practice to master the flip and even at our best, our tortillas seldom fully resemble the ones we ate in Spain. This recipe is a good start for first time tortilla makers but, like the best of dishes, will require your personal tweaking to achieve greatness.

Got any tips of your own?