Until now, I had never made tortillas.
To be honest, I never really felt the need. Yes, of course I know that the homemade (or fresh restaurant made) are better than the store bought variety, but I always (rather foolishly) assumed that they must be difficult. Or at the very least, require special equipment, like a tortilla press. And considering I am already working here with the bare essentials, a tortilla press is defintely not happening.
But I was planning to make chile verde, and that is something that I think really requires a good tortilla, so I decided to rethink my stance on not making my own.
And thank goodness that change was made.
Only 2 ingredients, and 1 comes flowing out of the tap, so all you really need is masa harina. And instead of a press, all you really need is plastic wrap and a heavy book or skillet.
I think I spent more time worrying about them than mixing, cooking, and devouring.
They had a wonderful contrast – the outside was crisp but not hard, and the inside was still a bit chewy, that elusive combo that you cannot find in the flat store version.
I had one straight away with salsa (the cook needs to test and taste, no?) and then we had a few more with chile verde for dinner. I made a full batch, so I am thinking next I will just reheat them directly on the gas flame and swap them out for my morning avocado toast.
What is something you have made that was so much simpler than you imagined?
Homemade Corn Tortillas
This method does not use a tortilla press. I gather if you own a tortilla press, you already know what to do. If this inspires you to buy a tortilla press because you think it would be an easier way to make tortillas EVERY-SINGLE-DAY, I understand. You will use the same method, and you can leave the books for the library. Just don’t forget to line the press with plastic or wax paper.
Masa harina is a corn flour that has been treated with lime, so cornmeal or corn flour does not work for tortillas. The recipe for corn tortillas is so basic that it will most likely be on your package of flour – it is pretty universal, although the water amounts can vary a bit, so make sure to check the water requirements for your particular brand.*
2 c. masa harina
1¼ c. warm water*
In a bowl, combine masa harina and water. Continue mixing until a dough has formed, lightly kneading for a few minutes. Set aside for about 5 minutes.
While the dough is resting, cut 2 pieces of wax paper or plastic from a large freezer bag. (I realized I was out of wax paper and large ziplocs, so I did one piece of parchment and one piece of plastic wrap. I figured that only plastic wrap would be too clingy to maneuver on top and the parchment only would curl up on the bottom, how’s that for some yankee ingenuity?)
The 2 cups flour will make 16 tortillas, so to keep them all (roughly) equal, I first divide the dough into 2 balls, then quarter each half, and half each quarter again. Roll each section of dough into balls, roughly the size of a golf ball.
Heat a dry skillet or griddle over high heat.
You will make one tortilla at a time, pressing the next while one is cooking. Place one piece of the paper on flat surface, top with a ball of dough and another piece of paper. Using a heavy book or skillet, press down to flatten.
Pick up the tortilla and papers in one hand, gently peel on the back piece of paper, and transfer hands. Gently peel of the top piece of paper next, letting half the tortilla hang from your hand (think very light patty-cake).
Carefully place the tortilla on the hot pan, and let cook 30 seconds on the first side, flip and let cook 1 minute on the alternate side. Flip back and cook another 30 seconds on the first side. The tortilla will be slightly golden and start to puff up a bit.
Remove to a tortilla warmer or a plate lined with dish towel or cloth napkin to keep warm.
Repeat with remaining 15 tortillas.
Serve warm or refrigerate and reheat (I think open flame is best for that).