Thursday, 13 October 2011

Spanish Style Omelette with Bacon and Potato: A Leftovers Special

Spanish omelettes are very different from their French counterparts. While not quite constituting the robust dish that is a Tortilla Espanol (especially given the absence of onion), this recipe does follow the principles of cooking the sundry ingredients of the omelette in the pan before adding the eggs to bind them all together. This is a perfect dish to have for dinner when perhaps you have had a hard day and can't be bothered visiting the supermarket, allowing you to use up those leftover odds and ends in your refrigerator at the same time. In this instance, I had half a red bell pepper, four rashers of bacon and a couple of tomatoes, all of which were still in perfectly good eating condition but were in danger of declining if they weren't used soon. (Important: The tomatoes were of course not in the refrigerator!) Waste not, want not, is the principle perhaps adhered to here - but the tasty dinner which can be prepared at the same time makes this idea a winner in all respects.

Ingredients (Serves One)

3 large eggs
4 rashers of bacon
1 medium floury/starchy potato
1/2 red bell pepper
2 small to medium tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
5 or 6 pitted black olives
2oz cheddar or other hard cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 or 3 fresh basil leaves to garnish

An Important Word About Bacon

Firstly, the bacon used in this recipe is British bacon. It is taken from the back or loin of the pig rather than the belly and that means there is more meat and less fat. American bacon will work just as well but you may have to pour off a little of the fat after the potatoes are cooked and prior to adding the pepper and garlic if you don't want your finished dish to be too greasy.

Perhaps more importantly, after you have fried off the bacon in the method about to be described, you may find that you have some unappetising looking white, "Globules," in the bottom of your pan. This simply means that your bacon has been injected with a saline solution as part of the curing process, mostly to artificially increase the weight and the profit for the source supplier. It is a procedure carried out by a great many bacon producers in the UK. All you have to do is scoop out these white bits and add a little bit of butter and olive oil to the pan to compensate for the lack of fat.


Firstly, roughly chop your bacon but do not discard any of the fat. Put it in to a dry, non-stick frying pan and on to a low heat. As the fat in the bacon begins to melt, gradually increase the heat, stirring the bacon around frequently with a wooden spoon until it is cooked. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked bacon to a plate and see the note in the orange panel above re the fat left in your pan.

Peel and moderately finely dice the potato. Add it to the hot fat in the pan and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Go easy on the salt as the bacon will have imparted a lot of saltiness to the fat but potatoes are of course notoriously bland and a little salt is still likely to be necessary. Fry the potatoes on a moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened and lightly browned.

Roughly chop the half bell pepper and the peeled garlic clove. Add them to the potatoes and fry for a further couple of minutes, before re-adding the bacon simply to heat through.

While the bacon is reheating, break the eggs in to a bowl and lightly beat them with a fork or small hand-held whisk.

Ensure that your potato, pepper and bacon mix is spread evenly over the base of your pan and carefully pour in the egg mixture. Heat at a medium setting (you don't want the underside of the omelette burned before the top is cooked) until you can see it is almost but not quite set right to the top.

Put your overhead grill on to preheat to maximum. Slice your tomatoes and cut your black olives in half lengthways. Arrange them evenly over the top of the almost cooked omelette. Place your pan under the overhead grill to finish setting the omelette and essentially heat the olives and tomatoes. This should take only about a minute, so keep an eye on it and don't let it burn.

Grate your cheese while the omelette is finishing setting under the grill. Remove the pan from under the grill and scatter the cheese over the top. A little extra freshly ground black pepper is a good idea at this stage but not essential. Put the pan back under the grill until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

The omelette should now be served immediately by simply using a spatula or fish slice to loosen it around the edges before sliding it on to a plate. Roughly tear or scatter the basil leaves over the top as an attractive but entirely optional garnish.

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