I was first introduced to the torta while vacationing in Hilton Head, South Carolina roughly 7 years ago. A lot of our family members filled the vacation home near the beach. I believe it was our first vacation where we shared a living space with so many family members. It was a blast. A lot of us did our own thing throughout the day, whether it was swimming at the beach, shopping in town, or swimming in the backyard, but one thing was clear, everyone was hungry at dinner time.
Everyone was on their own when it came to fixing their breakfast and lunch, we dedicated a team for each night of the week for dinner. There was a level of excitement around dinner, as everyone had their own spin on their favorite dishes. I recall mine being chimichangas, Mexican rice and beans, along with guacamole and other sides; one of my wife’s favorite dishes. Sure, there were pasta dishes, some grilled chicken, and some fancy salads, but there was one comforting dish that I will always remember, and that was the torta, and he made this feast for breakfast.
Our cousin, Marlon shared a passion for food, just like me. He was good in the kitchen as well; knowing his way with the knife and ingredients. Calm, collected, and quick, he showed no signs of panic when it came to cooking for 12 adults. The foodie I am, I was always in the kitchen, either prepping, or cooking, or asking questions of others. I watched Marlon prepare this torta, a word I was not too familiar with 7 years ago. As he prepared simple ingredients, he brought out some eggs, and plenty of them, as we were finishing up our vacation and attempting to use as many ingredients as we could before flying back home.
This torta, a Filipino omellete, if you will, is so diverse that you can probably use whatever ingredients you want, however asking other family members how they remember the torta, it was pretty much the standard response, making it Filipino in my eyes. This is really easy to make, and truly comforting. You might laugh and think this is a standard omelet, and you are probably correct on that, as it is dealing with eggs, however it is stuffed, and not just tossed together and cooked.
Enough said, lets get started on this comforting recipe.
- 1/2 lb of ground beef
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 medium shallot, finely diced
- 2 small russet potatoes, skin removed, cut into small cubes
- 2 small tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup of peas, optional
- salt, generous pinch
- black pepper, generous pinch
- 4 eggs, beaten with 3 tbsp of water
- 1 tbsp of butter
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- cooked white rice, optional
Begin by browning your ground beef. About half way through the cooking process, add in your cubed potatoes, diced onion and shallot, and mix well. The fat from the ground beef cooks well with the potatoes and onions. Stir, and stir often to prevent any sticking. Add about 1/2 cup of water, and continue to cook on medium to high heat. Cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. The water should make the potatoes tender, and slowly evaporate. If you have some water left, uncover, and bring the heat up. Add the salt and pepper. Once the potatoes are tender, add in the diced tomatoes, remove from the heats, and set aside.
Get another skillet ready. I like to do these in batches, however if you have a large skillet and want to cook all four eggs, feel free. I take a smaller skillet, add in half of the olive oil and butter, and warm on medium heat. Let the oil and butter get nice and warm. Add in half of your beaten eggs, and let them do their thing, but lower the heat a bit. You do not want to scramble the eggs, but you just want them to cook half way through.
As the eggs cook half way through, take your meat and potato mixture, and place a couple of spoonfuls on one of the sides of the egg. Carefully fold the other side of the egg over the meat mixture and continue to cook for another minute or so on medium-low heat.
Now you are ready to plate. Slide the torta onto your plate and serve alongside a small cup of rice.
Trust me, this is comforting, and as my wife will attest, this is something she will always remember growing up. Marlon did it right that day, using simple ingredients to make a really wonderful dish.