Take a potato omelet to a potluck and you’re liable to come home empty-handed.
Take a potato omelet to a potluck and you're liable to come home empty-handed. (Julie Falsetti photo)

Over the years, I've been to many potlucks. Some of the dishes I brought were moderate successes and some were taken home almost untouched.

There is one dish however, that never produces leftovers. In fact, people seek me out to find the recipe.

When I tell them the ingredients, many are incredulous thinking I am holding something out on them. How could just eggs, potatoes and onions taste so good?

The tortilla espaƱola, or potato omelet, isn't the national dish of Spain, but it should be. It is served everywhere and at any time of the day. It is a staple at every tapas bar. Warm, cool or room temperature, it is delicious. Its simple ingredients make its appeal universal.

Despite its name, the tortilla has nothing to do with corn or Mexican food. This tortilla is more a cousin of the Italian frittata.

To begin, you need a 10-1/2-inch non-stick frying pan. This is essential as you will be inverting the tortilla after the underside is cooked and you don't want it to stick.

The first step is to peel and cut two russet potatoes (the low moisture, baking kind) into half-inch cubes. Then thinly slice a medium size onion.

Place the pan over medium heat and generously coat the bottom with the best olive oil you can afford.

When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and onions and cook over medium heat until the potatoes are soft. While cooking, generously sprinkle the mixture with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Turn the potato/onion mixture frequently so it doesn't burn.

In the meantime, in a medium-size bowl, beat four extra large eggs and season them with salt and pepper to taste.

When the potato/onion mixture is done, scoop it out with a spatula and add it to the eggs. Give the mixture a stir and add it back to the pan, flattening out the ingredients if necessary.

Cook until the bottom is set, about 5 to 8 minutes. You will notice the tortilla pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Next, take a plate that is larger than the frying pan and place it on top. With one hand on the handle of the frying pan and the other on the top of the plate, invert the tortilla onto the plate. Then slide the omelet, raw side down, back into the skillet.

Cook for about five minutes more.

If the flipping part is a too daunting, you can use a well-seasoned cast iron frying pan and then put it under the broiler for a few minutes to cook the top.

The tortilla can be served warm or at room temperature. I prefer the latter as I think the flavors have a chance to come together. To serve it as an appetizer, cut the omelet into 2-inch squares or small wedges.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.