All About Eggs!: Tortilla Española

Egg cookery has always been something that interested me. One of the many lessons I have learned in my early culinary school days is that cooking eggs will be one of the toughest jobs someone will have in a kitchen…..

Really?!? How could something as simple as cooking an egg be that difficult? Well….. Since I’ve started working brunch, I now understand what they say about eggs.

So this portion of my blog is dedicated too all things eggs! Something that is so easy to make, yet so hard to get right that it could be seen as an art form.

Working brunch at the Harvest Vine has taught me many new preparations of eggs and more importantly, how to properly cook eggs. My first All About Eggs! post is on one of the most traditional dishes of Spain, the Tortilla Española. I have chosen the Tortilla because it holds a large amount of importance to how I work in the kitchen. I have made it a goal of mine to perfect the art of cooking the omelet ever since I’ve had my first taste of one at Txori. It was perfect. A small wedge cut out of the disc shaped omelet served on toasted bread rubbed with garlic oil and then dabbed with 3 perfectly round dots of alioli. It doesn’t get any simpler than that, but simple has never tasted so delicious. It took me about 2 years in the making and over hundreds of tortilla but I have finally figured out the ways of the Tortilla Española. There are so many variables that can make or break your tortilla from the batter you make with your potatoes and eggs to the heat control under your pan.

(Photo taken from The Kiwi Project)

Tortilla Española is essentially a potato and onion omelet but the fillings of ingredients can be countless from diced chorizo or ham to various vegetables like peas, artichokes, or roasted peppers. Basically, you can make a tortilla with any ingredient you want. Get creative  and have some fun (check out one of my favorite renditions by Ferran Adrià, the egg and potato chip tortilla)!

To make Tortilla Española, it is preferred to use a potato that is not as starchy. At my work, we use regular russet potatoes and find that it works perfectly fine. Traditionally, Tortillas start with thinly sliced potatoes and onions being cooked down in a pan with oil to cover until the potatoes are tender. At our work, we use reheated panadera potatoes that we add to our eggs so it cuts the time in the kitchen.

We start with 2 quarts of panadera potatoes and slowly reheat them until they are hot to the touch. We then add them to 14 scrambled eggs whisked with a good amount of salt; this makes about 2 full sized Tortillas or around 9 mini Tortillas. The next part is one of the most critical parts of the Tortilla making process, which is to let the batter sit for 30 minutes to an hour. This lets the heated potatoes gently heat up the eggs (but not cook the eggs) to make a very thick batter. I find that the thicker the batter, the faster that center of the tortilla cooks all the way through. If the batter is too thin and water, then it’ll take you longer to cook the tortilla all the way through and also, I find that it makes it easier to brown the outsides of the tortilla. Which is what we don’t want!

Next comes the frying. The key to the frying is to make sure you have the right pan. I prefer deep, heavy skillets that keep an even heat throughout the pan. Now for the oil, you got to make sure that you use enough oil so that the Tortilla doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and also, you need to make sure that the oil is heated up pretty hot. I usually heat it up until right it starts smoking before I add the potato and egg mixture so it instantly sets the bottom of the omelet. After adding the eggs, I return the pan to the stove and set the heat on medium low and carefully watch the omelet by running a spatula around the outside of the rim and scraping the bottom of the pan, making sure it doesn’t stick. When the outer edge of the omelet is thick and the center of the uncooked side looks like its no longer liquid its ready to be flipped!

Known as “la vuelta”, which means the flip, is probably the hardest part of the Tortilla making process. First, run a spatula around the rim again to make sure there is no sticking, then place a flat plate over the pan holding it firmly with your free hand thats not holding the pan handle. Then using both hands, carefully flip over the pan and carefully lift it from the plate, releasing the omelet from the pan. The cooked side of the tortilla should be a golden color with very little browning.

Next, reheat the pan with oil until barely smoking and then carefully push the omelet back into the pan, making sure to tuck in all around the tortilla to form the disc shape. From here on out, it is all about making sure that you watch the heat under the pan isn’t too hot that it browns the omelet. After every 4-5 minutes, I flip the tortilla until the center of the tortilla feels cooked all the way through. A toothpick can be inserted and should come out dry too show you whether or not the tortilla is done.


Even after making a couple hundred of these, I find myself finding new ways to perfect my Tortilla Española. It is always a great feeling when you flip out your Tortilla for the last time and let it sit before you cut into them and indulge in the light and fluffy texture of Tortilla!

Tortilla Española Wrapped in Jamon Serrano then seared until crispy!

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Beef Tongue: The Better Roast Beef

If there is one thing that I try to get guests to try at The Harvest Vine, it would have to be the Beef Tongue. Beef Tongue is just one of those dishes that people seem to be so scared off because of what it is…. a tongue of a cow.  Most of the people who are disgusted with beef tongue usually explains to me that they actually have had it before, usually made by their parents or grandparents, but it was just never good. Well thanks moms, dads, grand mothers and grand fathers. You have ruined something so great to these people and its time for a redemption…

Say Ahhhhhh!

It might not sound like the most appetizing thing to eat, let alone look like something that a human should ever have to put into their mouth, but I feel that is a completely versatile piece of meat. It’s like the better roast beef. When you thinly slice it, it’s perfectly good served cold.  It has the melt in your mouth texture that resembles the texture of a perfect slice of roast beef along with a great red wine flavor and saltiness that it absorbs in the brining process. You can the tongue into thicker pieces and sear each side of of the slice until its peferctly crispy and caramelized and still retain that great texture that the tongue has.

This is the process that a beef tongue undergoes until it reaches ultimate (and very edible) tastiness.

We brine the tongue(s) in a red wine brine with salt, sugar, aromatics, mirepoix, and of course, red wine for atleast 3-4 days. Brining aids with the flavor and texture of the tongues outcome.

Tongue In Brine!

Then we strain the mirepoix and aromatics then discard the brining liquid. We caramelize the mirepoix in hot pans and then add tomato paste and choricer paste then cook it down. Deglaze the pan with red wine and then add everything to the beef tongue and cover with beef stock/water with garlic cloves and herbs.

Tongue ready to be braised!

Braise at 325F for 4-5 hours with turning the tongue half way through until you can poke a knife or skewer through the tongue with no resistance. Then pull out tongue from liquid and let sit at room temperature until cool enough to handle. Strain the braising liquid from the mirepoix and etc and save for later use.

Tongues ready to be pulled out.

Once cool enough to handle but still warm, carefully pull off the skin from the meat from the tongue. You can do this while the tongue is cool, but it is much easier when the tongue is still warm. It should come off pretty easy but to take off skin with out ripping meat off, just carefully maneuver your finger between the skin and the meat, gently separating the two from each other. Otherwise, just go a head and rip that skin off!

The Naked Tongue

Once the skin is off, the tongue is all ready to use! Right now, our work has the tongue on the menu for Seattle Restaurant Week as a salad. The tongue is chilled then thinly sliced and then covered  with alioli (garlic mayonnaise), sliced pippara peppers, sea salt, and a really nice arbequinia olive oil. It’s a really simple salad that really lets the flavor of the beef tongue shine. The pipparas bring a nice acidic kick to the dish and then the alioli brings it all together to really balance out all of the richness of the tongue and the acidity from the pipparas.

Lengua de Vaca

Lengua de Vaca

We also have it on the brunch menu as a bocadillo (a small sandwhich in Spain) where we warm up the sliced tongue and then serve it with braising liquid as a dipping caldo (think like a French Dip, but rather a ‘Basque Dip’). There was also a request for a tongue dish so I made a dish with panaderas potatoes, seared tongue, 2 poached eggs, alioli, and demi. It turned out to be a great dish and the customer even said it should be put on the menu ASAP. We’ll see about that! =]

Beef tongue with Panaderas potatoes and Poached eggs.

This was a great post to me because I love trying to get people to try to be more adventurous and to be not so afraid of food like this especially when they are something as delicious as tongue!

Basics: Panaderas Potatoes

Every cuisine has their “basic” necessities. From mother sauces to spice blends, there are just some basic recipes and fundamentals that are foundation of a dish. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned working at The Harvest Vine is the importance of knowing the basics before going on and trying to create your own dish. There is a reason that certain dishes have become what we know it as today and to know the foundation of that dish will help you understand how and why that dish was created. This now opens up a whole new world of possibilities because since you know how the dish works, you are able to put your own twist on them, making it your own while keeping it true to the original.

This post is about Panaderas potatoes. Panaderas is something that we always have on deck in our walk-in because we use it for a countless amount of ways. Essentially, Panaderas are round, thinly sliced (about 1/4″) potatoes that are sauteed in a good amount of oil until they are golden and soft. At my work, since we use it so often, we have found a good way to make a large batch by slowly confit the potatoes so we can use it whenever we need it.

My Panaderas Kit! (Pototatoes, Onions, Oil)

Using a mandolin (very carefully!), we thinly slice whole, peeled russet potatoes at about 1/4″. We then also do the same with onions and julienne them to the same thickness. And then layer the potatoes and onions in a half hotel pan until 3/4th filled. Then pour on olive oil to cover.

Layers of potatoes and onions create layers of flavor!

Pouring on that liquid gold!

The next step is to take a piece of parchment paper and to put a cartouche (Oh! Vocab word!), or to put it over the potatoes, onions, and oil to help ensure that steam doesn’t escape to help preserve the color of the potatoes and onions. This helps keep the potatoes and onions from carmelizing and turing brown. We then cover them with foil and place them into an oven set at 325F  to confit for about an hour until potatoes are tender.

Cartouche!

When the potatoes are all the way tender, we take them out of the oil making sure we strain and SAVE all the oil for future panaderas making! We let them cool and then they are ready for use!!

Now we can heat up some panaderas and throw it in some whisked eggs to make a tortilla espanola  or we use it as the perfect side dish with some Grilled Fresh Cut from the Iberican Black Footed Pig. All we do is saute some garlic with these panaderas potatoes and then just season with salt and parley so we don’t take away from the focus of the greatest piece of pork you’ll ever have, but compliment it in only the best ways!

Tortilla Espanola Extravaganza!