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May 28, 2010 05:09 PM

Spanish Tortilla - Finish under broiler?

So I've made a spanish tortilla before and I can never invert it properly. I know the process of how to do it but something always goes wrong and I don't get that perfect shape.

I read someone said to skip the inverting and just put it under the broiler.

2 questions

Does this change the texture/flavour of the tortilla as compared to if I inverted it?

How long does it take to get browned?


I wonder if a Spanish person thinks this is a sin to cook it this way.

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  1. What is the difficulty you have with inverting it? Technical? I don't know why you need to broil it, for what, browning and finishing? It should be already cooked through when you're ready to invert it.

    Sure, you can brown it under the broiler, but it's not necessary. See my #1.

    It will only change the flavor of the outer, browned crust of the tortilla.

    The length of time it takes to brown is up to your broiler and it's heat output. If you decide to do this, keep an eye on it, as it will go fast.

    The entire Spanish population is cringing right now at the thought of you doing spare the country of Spain.;-}}

    In all seriousness. I'm interested to know what difficulty you're having with inverting the tortilla.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      I've had most success sliding the tortilla out onto a plate, then placing the pan over it, and invert.

      I also cook it with the lid on, so the top cooks a bit more before inverting.

      I have read about using a broiler. I think it should work fine. Why don't they use a broiler in Spain? Could it be broilers weren't a common part of home stoves?

      1. re: paulj

        Spanish stoves may or may not have a broiler, I don't know; I can't imagine why they wouldn't. Obviously the OP does have one.

        The tortilla is normally flipped by sliding it onto a plate and back into the pan, as you described, or by tossing it into the air. Using a broiler will not cook the thicker tortilla through, it will just brown the surface. My original post was more about addressing the difficulty the OP might be having with the flipping/inverting process, rather than what method he/she chooses to finish the tortilla. I prefer recommending the more authentic, time tested technique.

        Tortilla de EspaƱola

        The Italian Frittate is plural for frittata, FWIW.

    2. My take on this is that tortilla=frittata. And I make my frittatas by turning my oven on to Preheat with the temp. selector at maximum as soon as I turn the flame on under the pan. Then when the pan gets hot I pour in the egg mixture, stir it around just enough to make sure it's mostly cooked, then stick it into the middle of the oven for about three minutes. If I wanted it to brown I'd leave it longer, but I don't care for browned egg and Mrs. O can't stand it.

      I'm sure this is no more how they make frittatas in Italy than it is how they make tortillas in Spain. What I'm not sure about is why I or anyone else should care...

      5 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen

        Yes, loosely defined, a Spanish tortilla is a potato "frittata," Tortilla de Patata, but the very thinly sliced potatoes are cooked in olive oil first, with onions if desired, drained, then the eggs are added and cooked until set and slightly browned. It's normally a thick affair, as compared to a frittata, and is flipped via the plate method, to finish cooking, and is not finished under the broiler.

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          My frittate (to get all grammatically correct) are also thick affairs, and may or may not have cooked ingredients in them. (And I don't quite frankly give a hoot what the Spaniards or Italians do, don't no damn eggs get browned around here. My mom's omelets were the puffy kind, and all brown and crusty, and to me it was like eating burnt hair.)

          My point about applying top heat vs. flipping is that the OBJECTIVE is to cook both sides, and that how that objective is attained is a matter of merely technical interest. Unless of course you're doing some kind of re-enactment of historical authenticity, instead of simply cooking supper.

          1. re: Will Owen

            Jose Andres in Made in Spain shows a version of this tortilla with is cooked on both sides, but wet on the interior, almost like a 'water pillow'.


            A couple of the top Spanish chefs also say you can use good quality potato chips inplace of the home cooked potato slides.

            While potato and onion is the quintessential filling for tortillas in Spain, they aren't the only ones.

            1. re: paulj

              Interesting that it was that wet on the inside. Haven't tried a tortilla/frittata like that before.

            2. re: Will Owen

              I hate browned eggs, too, for exactly that reason. They *do* taste like burnt hair, or skin, or something inedible and disgusting! My tortilla de patata is barely golden....just how I like it.

              I follow this recipe (halving it and cooking in a small non-stick skillet) and always have great results:

              I add much more salt, though, and I do let the potatoes get a little brown. Otherwise, the tortilla can be pretty bland. And I also drastically reduce the heat quite a bit before adding the egg mixture, or it gets too brown for my tastes.

        2. Jose Andres breaking eggs and rules

          tortilla patatas chips

          It's not quite the whole thing, and in Spanish. I think he adds a finishing touch with a butane torch.

          There are a whole bunch of youtube videos on how to flip at tortilla, just search for the Spanish: (and a few on how not to
          )vuelta a una tortilla

          1. My understanding is that a Spanish tortilla should not be browned. Rather than slipping the tortilla on to a plate to flip it, I put a plate on top of the skillet and with oven mits on grasp the plate and skillet and flip the tortilla onto the plate. Then I flip the tortilla onto another plate, and then flip it back into the skillet using same method as flipping it out. I know that sounds really convoluted, but I'm not so good at just sliding the tortilla out of the skillet!

            4 Replies
            1. re: MMRuth

              Come to think of it, the ones I saw in Spain were never super-browned. More like lightly golden.

              1. re: MMRuth

                I think the intention behind using the broiler is to set the egg on top, not to brown it. You should be able to control the distance and time to accomplish that. I don't use my broiler that much, so haven't tried it.

                A big variable with flipping is timing. Wait too long, and bottom will get too brown. Too soon, there will be a lot of liquid egg to spill. Those Spanish videos show the mess you can get, even with a flat top stove. In the Andres video the cook inverted the tortilla over a tray to catch the excess liquid egg. Then with the omelet back in the pan, he sliced a hole in the top, and added the liquid back in.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  I'm not sure what the color should exactly be.

                  The Spanish restuarant I go to never has the top browned. It's not even golden. And this place is pretty authentic. But when I google images of Spanish Tortilla most of the images are browned tops.

                  1. re: alcoholic29

                    "I'm not sure what the color should exactly be."

                    It should be as you prefer to eat it. There's no right or wrong here.

                2. No reason why you shouldnt finish it under the grill if you're having a problem flipping it. It's your dinner and the important thing is that you enjoy it.

                  My partner & I were shown how to cook tortilla by our Mallorcan relative. He takes much longer to cook it than we would have previously thought necessary. A lowish heat and he constantly uses a spatula to "mould up" the egg mix as it cooks. Once it's almost cooked, it's plate on top; the tricky flip over and then sliding it back into the pan. Then it's back to the final bit of moulding.