As I was making some pork tacos to take to a Super Bowl party today, I remembered that I really need to show you all how to make corn tortillas from scratch. This recipe and process has been in my family for generations now. To the left is a picture of me on Cinco De Mayo, or as my family called it, the Day of the Tortilla. My family would make 311 tortillas for each person in attendance to honor each Mexican man who died at the Alamo. It was a wonderful day and we would share all of the tortillas with neighbors and family.
Or, I just got the recipe off of the bag. One of the two.
Like a lot of the recipes I show you, making tortillas is very easy, but it is time consuming. However, you’ve never tasted a tortilla until you’ve tasted a homemade tortilla. Now there are some specialized tools involved, but there are ways to work around that.
How to Make Corn Tortillas
The first thing we need to do is get together a corn based dough. For that, the easiest thing to do is to start with masa harinia. Masa Harina is a corn flour dough that has been treated with lime (the stuff you bury dead bodies with so they decompose faster, not the fruit) to break down some of the corn’s chemical compounds. If you’re a big enough nerd, you can read all about that here.
With the influx of Latin peoples into the United States finding masa harina is relatively easy, unless you live somewhere like Iowa. And if you live in Iowa you probably don’t want to eat any more food with corn in it anyway. It is available at most grocery stores in the Ethnic foods aisle. I purchased mine at Giant Eagle.
- 2 C Instant Corn Masa Flour
- 2 t. salt
- 1 1/4 C water
It is very easy, you mix those all together until you get a pliable dough. Depending on humidity, don’t be afraid to add a bit more water if the dough isn’t coming together completely. The dough should not stick to the sides of the bowl. You’ll need to let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before we continue on.
As I mentioned, making tortillas from scratch is a time consuming process, so get your system in order before you even start. The basic process starts with forming a ball from the dough, then flattening it with a tortilla press, cooking it on a skillet of some sort and finally placing it aside to warm. Here is how I setup my tortilla station. I go from right to left.
You’ll want to place this ball on your tortilla press. You do have a tortilla press right? I got mine from the Latin Corner when it went out of business, so it is a pretty hefty model, completely made of wood. You can purchase a tortilla press from any Hispanic market, online and in many grocery stores. Unless you are going to be making tortillas on a regular basis, I would make sure to get one that is small enough to store in your kitchen. If you don’t want to spend money on a tortilla press, a rolling pin works well too. Keep in mind that your finished product should be a 6-inch diameter disk.
If you are going to be using a tortilla press, you’ll want to make sure to line each side with plastic wrap, wax paper or I even had some success with a gallon zip-top bag. Place the ball of dough onto the platform, fold over the top and press down firmly with the handle. It will take you a couple of tries to figure out the right pressure, placement and timing, but if you make a mistake with the first few, just roll it back into a ball and start over. You should end up with something like this:
Although this little disc looks delicious, it needs to be cooked. Tortillas are supposed to be cooked on a flat cast iron pan called a comal, but that certainly isn’t a necessity when any cast iron or nonstick cookware will work just fine. I used my cast iron skillet.
Now the goal is to cook most of the water out of these, so with your range set on medium 30 seconds to a minute on each side should do the trick. Once cooked through you’ll want to keep them warm. If you have a tortilla warmer that works great, but if you’re like me and half no need circular plastic box that can only hold 10 tortillas, wrap them in a tea towel.
All that’s left to do is enjoy with some carnitas or maybe some chorizo. Make sure you enjoy them, because you’ll never have another tortilla that tastes as good as the one you just made. If you can’t manage to eat them all store them in the fridge, they will last for a week or so. To heat them back up, you can use the microwave or a hot skillet for a few seconds.
Tagged with: How To • Mexican • Recipes • tortillas • traditional
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