Tortillas

Rev 0.50, last revised:  26-Jan-09

[Caution:  This recipe is still under construction--steal at your own risk!]

The venerable tortilla is the staple of Mexican cuisine.  It is simple to make, and although it comes in two versions (flour and corn) I like the flour ones, so I'm going to address that variation here.  Alternatively, try my sourdough variation.  This recipe has been modified to conform to the recipe demonstrated to me by my wonderful son-in-law's most gracious aunt Vicky--a most authentic Mexican lady...and a maker of some yummy tortillas!

Ingredients:

Serving Size: ~12; depends on size

In a large bowl, dry whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Add enough very warm water to make a soft, not too sticky dough.  Add the Lard and mix/knead only enough to fully incorporate the flour and have a more or less homogenous mixture.  2-minutes tops!

Tear off golf-ball sized chunks, roll into flattened balls and allow to rest, covered.  Sprinkle with just enough flour to keep them from being to sticky to handle.

Using a hand-pin (does the job of a rolling pin, but looks like a 12-13 inch piece of sawed off broom-handle), roll each ball into a flat round about 6 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch, or less, thick.

Heat a 12-14 inch or so diameter, 1/4 inch thick slab of sheet iron over medium high heat.  Place the tortillas one at a time onto the dry hot iron plate; cook until a few bubbles show and brown-spots occur on one side (~30-45 seconds), then turn and brown the other side.

Remove from the iron and keep warm in cloth towel.


Corn Tortillas and Tortilla Chips

Serving Size: 12

* Masa harina - A flour made from dried corn, which is combined with liquid and used to make corn tortillas and tamales.  Masa harina is available in many grocery stores and may be stored in an airtight containers or in a freezer.

In a medium bowl, stir together the masa harina and salt. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the lard and water to a boil and stir until melted.  Pour this liquid into the masa harina and blend well with a fork or pastry blender.  Knead on a lightly floured board until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each into a ball about 1 inch in diameter.  Roll out the dough between pieces of parchment or waxed paper until the dough is paper thin and about 6 inches in diameter.

Heat a large cast iron or other heavy skillet over high heat until very hot.  Remove a circle of dough from the paper and place it in the hot skillet.  Cook until brown spots appear on one side, about 30 seconds, turn and brown the other side.  Keep warm in a cloth towel.  Repeat until all the tortillas are made.

TORTILLA CHIPS:

Cut tortilla into 8 wedges; set aside.  Pour oil into a heavy saucepan or skillet to a depth of 1 inch.  Over medium high heat, heat to a temperature of 375 degrees F, or until a tortilla chips browns in 60 seconds.

Drop the tortilla wedges into the hot oil in batches and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they turn golden.  Drain on paper towels.  Let cool and store in airtight containers.


Some tortilla cooking hints:

Practice making tortillas before you make them for guests.  It's not difficult, but it does take a few times before you get the "feel" for the dough.

Only flip once.  For some reason, they do not taste good at all if flipped several times during cooking.

Don't worry about a "few" burnt spots, they actually add flavor.  Trust me on this.  But remember I did say a "few".

If the only tortillas you are familiar with come from taco bell, you may not be aware that not all tortillas are paper thin.  You may roll your tortilla to about ╝ inch thickness.  Any thicker than that and the outside burns before the inside cooks.  Thin tortillas are used in fajitas and similar dishes. Thicker tortillas are common in soups and other dishes where they will be soaked.

Don't have a rolling pin?  I use any handy wine bottle.  I've watched others using an old clean broomstick.

When rolling out your tortilla, some people find it easier/neater to put the dough ball in between two sheets of wax paper or parchment paper.

Old stale tortillas go great in soup.

Tortilla soup Ingredients:

Instructions:

Heat oil in a large pan.  SautÚ the onion until translucent.  Add chilies, broth, chicken, and tomatoes.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Stir in lime juice and optionally salt and pepper.  Pour into soup bowls and add tortilla cut in slices.  Garnish with lime slice.

It is best to use tortillas that were rolled slightly thick for this recipe.  If you use thin tortillas, fry them in a small amount of oil before adding to the soup.


And a suggestion from a NG reader for a true 'no leavening tortilla:

The flour tortilla recipe from Diana Kennedy's "The Cuisines of Mexico" and calls for:

This is for 24 6-inch tortillas.