To Flip or Not to Flip

October 03, 2012
By Holly Jennings

I used to think the difference between a tortilla and frittata is that the former is flipped and returned to the pan to brown and the latter is browned in the oven.

Why I ever wanted to categorize, classify, and clarify, in my own mind, the characteristics of the frittata versus tortilla, I don’t know. David Leite’s recipe for a sausage tortilla in his cookbook The New Portuguese Table freed me from that pointless exercise, which is not to the main point: enjoying a delicious egg dish, whatever its regional names or styles of making.

Leite’s tortilla, or tortilha in Portuguese, similar to the classic Spanish tortilla, is a mixture of egg and slow-cooked potato slices and onions. To that he adds chouriço and roasted red bell pepper. His tortilla is not flipped, but instead is finished under the broiler.

Since a trip to Spain during that country’s rosier economic times, the classic tortilla has been one of my favorite things to eat. Cooked in a generous amount of olive oil, the potato and egg meld together, creating a third flavor (call it “poteggo”) that is sufficiently rich to call for a glass of wine, always a good attribute in food. Penelope Casas, author of The Foods and Wines of Spain, puts it well: “ . . . it is much more delicious than you might think a dish of such limited ingredients could be.”

Starting my tortilla-making attempt with Leite’s recipe was a good move. It removed the anxiety of doing the flip, though one day I will try it.



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