Tortillas are one of those things I’ve always been interested in making, but are just so cheap to buy that I never bothered.
Like pasta, they are actually quite simple to make and the flavor of homemade tortillas is far superior than storebought. Not only do they taste fresher, but the ingredients are pure and simple with no preservatives or even fat added: corn flour, called Maseca, water and a little salt. That’s it!
Unlike pasta, tortillas require no special equipment to make. You can use a simple rolling pin or even your bare hands if you want. I used a standard sized rolling pin, which actually was too large to maneuver effectively.
Traditionally, a smaller rolling pin with a length of only about 6″ or 8″ is used, or a tortilla press. These are simple machines that smash down the dough between two metal plates. I went and bought this one (for $12 at WalMart) after making these tortillas because I plan on making lots of homemade tortillas in the future.
When I first started working in restaurants back in the early ’90s, tortillas were a staple of “la comida familia”, literally “family meal” or the communal dinner that was served to the restaurant staff just before service began.
Usually, these simple meals — mostly grilled meats and vegetables such as green peppers, onions and jalapenos slapped into a tortilla — were eaten standing up, often while still working as I rushed to get my prep ready for service. Yet they were among the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten.
I attempted to recreate one of these comidas familias with some grilled chicken and grilled vegetables, mostly from my garden, including jalapenos and green peppers. I served it with a chipotle sour cream, fresh salsa, homemade guacamole and tortilla chips.
2 cups Maseca (Corn Flour)
1/-14 cups Water
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1. Mix together ingredients until they form a soft, smooth dough. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer, which is the total gringo way of doing it: Unnecessary and overly complicated. Next time, I will simply mix it all up in a bowl with a wooden spoon then finish kneading it by hand.
2. Let dough rest for about 10 minutes, then divide it into 16 peices. Roll each peice into a ball about the size of a golf ball. Store the dough balls under a damp towel as you work with the other peices so they don’t dry out. Meanwhile, put your cast iron skillet over a medium heat.
3. Press down each dough ball between two sheets of plastic so that they form a flat tortilla about 4″ in diameter. Peel if off the plastic and lay it directly into a dry, heated skillet. Cook for about 50 seconds the flip over and cook the other side for 50 seconds. Remove and store inside a clean dish towel or tortilla holder until the rest of the batch are cooked. Serve immediately.
These were so delicious, easy and fun to make that I may never buy factory made tortillas again!