A Spanish tortilla should not be confused with the flour or corn tortillas popular in Mexican or TexMex cuisine. The word tortilla means "little cake" in the Spanish language and in Spanish cuisine it refers specifically to what is usually a fairly robust omelet made from eggs, potatoes, onion and traditionally nothing else bar olive oil and seasonings. It will commonly be cooked, cooled and served cold, having been cut in to wedges as would be a pizza. Like omelets of any type, however, the tortilla is easily adapted to introduce different flavors and ingredients and in this way it is possible to have a great deal of fun experimenting with different food combinations.

Spicy Chicken Spanish Tortilla
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Spicy chicken Spanish tortilla

This may best be described as a mini tortilla as it is prepared in a quantity designed to serve only one person as it appears above, or two people with a simple accompaniment such as the Italian bruschetta suggested in this particular instance. A simple salad of green leaves, tomatoes and olives would also serve as an excellent accompaniment, either in addition to or instead of the bruschetta.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 medium sized baby potatoes
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus extra to drizzle over bruschetta
  • ½ small skinless chicken breast fillet
  • ½ small red onion
  • Black pepper
  • Smoked (or ordinary) paprika
  • Pinch of dried basil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ciabatta or similar bread roll
  • 1 medium garlic clove


Boiled and Cooled Potatoes
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Boiled and cooled baby potatoes

The potatoes in a traditional tortilla would simply be peeled, sliced and fried in olive oil before the onion and the egg is subsequently added. In this instance, the skins were left in place and they were firstly parboiled, to eliminate the risk of them being overly crispy on the outside while still hard and under cooked in the middle. Simply wash or scrub them as necessary, add them to a pot of cold, salted water and bring the water to a simmer for twenty minutes. Drain the potatoes and leave to cool. 

Frying Chicken Breast
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chicken breast pieces are fried in extra virgin olive oil

Cut the chicken breast in to approximately three-quarter inch pieces. Be sure to use a very sharp knife to avoid tearing rather than cutting the chicken. Pour the olive oil in to an eight inch diameter, non-stick omelet pan and gently heat. Fry the chicken over a low to medium heat for two or three minutes, stirring it around with a wooden spoon, until just cooked. Remove temporarily to a holding plate, ideally using a slotted spoon to leave as much oil behind in the pan as possible.

Frying Potatoes and Onion
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Potatoes and onion are briefly sauteed

Chop each potato in to four to six pieces that each piece is about the same size as the chicken chunks. Moderately finely slice the peeled red onion half. Saute both the potatoes and onion in the olive oil for a minute or so until the onion strands have separated and are just starting to soften and turn translucent.

Chicken Returned to Pan
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chicken is returned to pan and combination is seasoned

Return the chicken pieces to the pan and season the mix with salt, black pepper and a little bit of paprika. Saute for another minute or so, just to ensure the seasoning is fully combined and evenly distributed and the chicken is fully reheated.

Dried Basil is Scattered in to Pan
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Dried basil is scattered over potatoes, onion and chicken

Put your broiler (kitchen grill) on to preheat to its highest setting.

Break the eggs in to a small bowl and beat with a fork or hand whisk until just combined and no more. Try to ensure the chicken, potato and onion are evenly distributed around the pan by moving them as required with a spatula or wooden spoon. Scatter with the dried basil before carefully pouring the egg mixture evenly over the top that it is subsequently of equal depth around the pan. 

Chilies Laid in Egg
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Beaten egg and chilies are added to pan

Moderately finely slice the red and green chilies, discard the top pieces with stalk attached and lay the slices at evenly dispersed intervals on top of the still liquid egg. Turn up the heat slightly beneath the pan.

Fully Cooked Tortilla
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Spicy chicken tortilla is cooked and ready to serve

After two or three minutes, you should see very little liquid remaining on the top of the tortilla. Traditionally at this stage, the tortilla would be slid from the pan on to a plate before being inverted back in to the pan to complete cooking on the second side. Clearly, disaster could easily result from this process, so what I prefer to do is simply place the pan under the high heat of the broiler to complete the cooking in a much less risky fashion. A little extra paprika and black pepper seasoning just before the pan goes under the heat is optional.

Toasted bread Roll Halves and Garlic
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Toasted bread roll halves and garlic

While the tortilla is completing cooking, cut the ciabatta or other bread roll in half horizontally. As soon as the tortilla is done, use the broiler to toast the roll halves on their cut sides. Remove to a chopping board and rub all over the cut sides with a peeled and lightly crushed garlic clove.

Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Bruschetta is ready to serve

Drizzle the roll halves will a little extra virgin olive oil and season with some salt and black pepper.

Spicy Chicken Tortilla and Bruschetta
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Spicy chicken tortilla half is served with bruschetta

It is very important not to cut the tortilla while it is still in the omelet pan, regardless of how it is to be served. A knife of any type could score the protective coating and permanently damage the pan. Instead, slide it carefully on to a plate or even a chopping board before halving and laying one half on each of two serving plates. Lay a piece of bruschetta alongside in each instance and serve immediately.

Eating Spicy Chicken Tortilla and Bruschetta
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Tucking in to spicy chicken tortilla and bruschetta