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I made a Spanish tortilla over the weekend and it reminded me that I don't get the right egg texture I'm after when cooking this. The results are tasty, but the tortilla is 'spongy'. From a restaurant I expect 'fluffy', where the egg has a smooth omelette-like texture.

The recipe (a Jamie Oliver one) is: fry off onion and diced potato in a large pan over a medium heat, when browned add some spices and crack in 8 eggs. When the sides of the tortilla start to come away pop under a hot grill until set.

What will help get the texture I'm after?

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He cracks the eggs into the pan? I've always whipped the eggs first, added the hot potatoes and whatever (and some of the oil) into the eggs, mix, and then back into the pan, then flip it after a few minutes. (putting it under the broiler might be too harsh of a heat) –  Joe Mar 22 '11 at 13:12
    
@Joe This is how I learned to make tortilla de patatas in Spain. I can't imagine broiling the eggs to give an acceptable result. –  Aaron Mar 22 '11 at 15:22
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Could the freshness of the eggs have an effect on the texture? I know that fresher eggs tend to be fluffier. How old were your eggs? –  Martha F. Mar 23 '11 at 18:15
    
Thanks for all the answers, particularly @Mien. @Martha F. You might have a point there, the eggs were bought from the supermarket 4 days previously. I don't know how old they were from then, though still well within date. –  Gary Mar 23 '11 at 19:10
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5 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

If you want it fluffy, you'll need air. The easiest way to accomplish this is to crack the eggs in a bowl, whip them (with a whisk or a fork) for a couple of minutes. If you have a homogeneous-ish substance, add them to the onions and potatoes in your pan.

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I also put a little water or milk in with the eggs before I whisk them. –  Kate Gregory Mar 22 '11 at 13:50
    
@Kate Gregory: yes a lot of people do it. It wasn't proven to help or anything, but it doesn't harm either; I think it's a bit more smooth :) –  Mien Mar 22 '11 at 14:22
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It sounds like you are over-cooking it a bit, so it is drying out. Eggs should always err on the side of undercooking for best results (with the usual precautions re. food poisoning for vulnerable groups).

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Spanish Tortilla, as learned from my ex mother in law from Spain: olive oil hot in pan, cubed potato and chopped onion, salt and pepper, cover and cook on medium heat until tender stirring occasionally. Whisk until smooth 8-10 eggs with a dash of milk and pour in circular motion from middle out to edge of pan. As edges cook, with spatula, lift edges in all four directions and while tilting pan, allow egg mixture to seep under the cooked edges. Continue this until the top has little raw egg left and swirl the pan some to prevent sticking and allow "new" egg to redistribute under cooked egg . Gently press center and any bubbles as they appear. With a large plate inverted over pan, carefully flip tortilla and then slide back into pan to finish cooking. Serve with crusty bread.

Jamie Oliver has said that OLDER eggs whip up the best egg whites without having to use cream of tartar. He's right as I have done this with meringues so I don't think the age of the egg makes a difference. If anything, having your eggs near room temperature might help.

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Cutting the potato in a "non parallel sides polyhedron" (sorry, I don't know how to express something like this but more irregular / random instead of cubes will make the tortilla tastier, as some of the potato's edges will be more golden. –  J.A.I.L. Nov 28 '12 at 7:50
    
@Martin Older eggs have a higher pH, but cream of tartar (or other acids used in whipping) are meant to lower the pH to improve whipping... curious. I wonder why Jamie Oliver says older eggs whip up better? They would also be lower in moisture, I wonder if the more concentrated proteins trap air better? –  Jonathan Dec 27 '12 at 6:58
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The recipe most used here is to fry the potatoes and onion, with some salt, on medium heat (you don't want them to be crispy fried, you want them soft), and on a bowl whisk the eggs well. In this point you can add a bit of milk to the eggs (softer texture) or alternatively a bit of beer (I think this is the best option).

Then add the potatoes and the onion to the bowl to mix everything well, add a bit more of salt if needed, then go back to the pan, this time with not too much oil, as little as needed to make sure the mix doesn't stick. Use medium-low heat. After a few minutes, when it doesn't stick to the sides of the pan, flip it around with the help of a dish or a cutting board, then cook on the other side and it's done ;).

As the way of flipping it with a dish and to give it the proper shape is a bit tricky, maybe this video helps:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeLsT4gZH5I&feature=related

It's in Spanish, but the flipping-shapping technique can be seen starting from 2:35.

Hope it helps :)

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Put a lid on it!

Add you whisked eggs and put a lid on the pan. It doesn't have to be a perfect fit, but you need hot steam to build up above the eggs

I tend to find you can cook hotter and quicker with the lid on, but this tends to vary on pan type and how even the heat source is

When done put under the grill as per recipe

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