Tortilla Española-ish

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This is decidedly not a summertime recipe. It involves multiple stove-top burners going at once and cranking up the oven broiler. But I had it for the first time during the summer six-ish years ago so I always associate it with summertime. I was in Spain for World Youth Day with a group of hilarious and wonderful girls and we shared lots of good conversations over buttered baguettes stuffed with jamon serrano, cold glasses of agua fresca, churros dipped in chocolate, and wedges of tortilla española.

If you’ve never had Spanish tortilla, you’ve been missing out on one of the great standards of homely world cuisine. It’s nothing like a Mexican tortilla. Rather, it’s a potato and egg pie served at room temp as tapas.

The ingredients are: potato, onion, egg, and olive oil. I strayed off the beaten path with this version and loaded it up with a few inauthentic ingredients (red wine vinegar, smoked paprika) to give it a punchier flavor.

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Ingredients:

6-8 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
olive oil (or butter)
4-5 eggs
2tbs red wine vinegar or more to taste (optional)
2tbs paprika or more to taste (optional)

Directions:

In a cast iron skillet or frying pan with higher edges heat olive oil over medium heat and add potatoes. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper, and some of the paprika. Cook potatoes in batches or in multiple pans so as not to overcrowd and burn them.

Stir the potatoes often and cook until they’re slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Set them aside in a bowl.

Next add the diced yellow onion to the skillet and cook in olive oil until translucent. Then add the potatoes back in and mix with the onion. The mixture should fill up the skillet a good ways up the sides.

Beat the eggs and add the red wine vinegar and remaining paprika and mix it all together. (Sometimes I add a 1/2 c of crushed tomatoes to give it an even punchier flavor) Pour the mixture over the potatoes and onions.

Cook over medium heat until the egg seems set on the sides and bottom. Place until broiler for five minutes until golden and crisp on top. If you use a non-stick skillet and the bottom was well-oiled, it should flip out easily on a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I like paring this with gazpacho (green grape and cucumber pictured). And to further round out your Spanish feast, you could serve it with a tomato-olive salad, manchego-melon-jamon serrano skewers, and of course, a pitcher of sangria.

Buen provecho!

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Tortilla Española-ish

Roast Chicken and Potatoes for a Sunday

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“As we have a right to believe eternity will be one uninterrupted Easter Sunday, so every Sunday throughout the year helps the Christian people to prepare for that great Sunday to come. It is a day of expectation, a weekly reminder that here is only the beginning of true happiness.”
-Maria Von Trapp

These days have been so hot. So very hot. We’re deep into a southeast Texas summer and I’ve reached the point–the unbearably sweat-soaked point–where I begin to make numerous proclamations about wanting to flee to some cool, blue mountains and never come back.

I dread getting out of the apartment to run to the grocery store because getting into the car is a foretaste of hell and the drive is just short enough for the air conditioning not to work itself up to anything resembling relief.

But last weekend, inspired by the desire to savor slower Sundays, I got the idea in my head that we needed a roast chicken. Roast chicken is something my stara mama made on Sundays. (Though she actually did live amidst cool, blue mountains and sourced her chickens locally from her chicken pen.) So, since it is my one true hope to become like her, out into the thick hot breath of summer I went to get my chicken.

I prepped it before 5pm Mass and then popped it in the oven after we came home. Even though it was 9 by the time we actually got around to eating (n.b. get thee out of bed on time to make morning Mass) and the apartment was feeling rather swampy from cranking up the oven for over an hour, the meal was glorious. There are few things more delicious than luxuriously crispy chicken skin and potatoes swimming in the drippings. Simple, juicy, homespun perfection and indeed only the beginning of true happiness.

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Recipe for Roast Chicken (adapted from both Thomas Keller and Ina Garten)

One 3-5lb whole chicken
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Fresh thyme
4-5 peeled cloves of garlic
Softened unsalted butter
5-6 halved medium yellow potatoes

Preheat oven to 450F. Rinse the chicken, remove and throw out giblets, and trim excess fat. Pat the chicken down inside and out with a paper towel. (Removing excess moisture results in a crispier chicken).

Salt and pepper the inside and out liberally. Brush a pat of butter on the inside and then stuff it with the cloves of garlic and thyme. Slightly brush the outside of the chicken with butter. (Thomas Keller famously does not butter his chicken at all because of the moisture, but I like the taste.)

Tuck the wings behind the chicken and tie the legs together (or if you’re like me and don’t keep kitchen string handy, watch this).

Place your chicken in a buttered baking dish and surround with the potatoes. (A roasting pan is ideal, but anything will do in a pinch–see tart dish in picture above). Onions, carrots, parsnips are all ideal and can be added too and sweet potatoes can be substituted easily if you’re making this in the fall.

Brush your potatoes with butter and give them a few shakes of salt and pepper. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the size of your chicken.

P.S. reserve those chicken bones for broth! And don’t let that chicken juice go to waste! Mix it butter and you’ll have chicken stock compound butter to amp up your dishes all week long.

White Wine Bechamel Sauce
This is a really lovely sauce for both the chicken and potatoes.

2tbs flour
2tbs butter
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup white wine

Heat milk in microwave for 30 seconds or over stovetop until warm to touch. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and continue to stir until the mixture becomes lightly golden. Add milk and whisk until smooth. Once the mixture is boiling, add white wine and stir until smooth. Season with pepper. (I thought the chicken was salty enough to skip salt in the sauce.)

Green Salad with Homemade Dressing

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of one small lemon
1tbs honey
2 tsp dijon
s&p
Butter, red leaf, or romaine lettuce

Whisk ingredients together. Adjust to taste (Psst…I never actually measure these things out–just adjust from start to finish). Toss in a large bowl with rinsed lettuce leaves. Less is more when it comes to dressing so you may end up with more dressing than necessary. Tossing well and making sure all the leaves are lightly coated is what you want.

Roast Chicken and Potatoes for a Sunday