Lately I’ve gotten into a tortilla-making kick. Every time I mention making tortillas on my personal Facebook page, I get requests for the recipe. This was not what I had planned to share today, but that’s okay. I aim to please and I know my family is anxious.
When Kiddo was a little kid, there was a great Mexican restaurant within walking distance of our house. Every day at four in the afternoon, they would fire up their tortilla making machine. Kiddo and I would walk up to the restaurant and watch their awesome machine spit out baskets filled with warm tortillas. We got to know the people at the restaurant, and they always let Kiddo have a basket of fresh tortillas with butter. He ate them as a snack. Some night we’d stick around for dinner, and Hubby would meet us there. Most of the time, we walked home, needing to work off those tortillas!
There’s something so special about hand-pressed tortillas. Maybe it’s the less than perfect shape or the freshness of the tortillas. It has more flavor than the store-bought kind. When I make mine, I get all the way to the pressing stage in the morning, making more than we could possibly eat in a single meal. Then I keep them in the refrigerator, frying up only what we need. My efforts usually create about a week’s worth of tortillas.
The great thing about this recipe is that it will work for flour, corn or a blend of the two. When I’m making a blend, it’s three and a half cups flour to one cup of corn. When I say corn, I mean the mesa flour you will find in the Latin section of your market or a good Mexican grocery store. It’s a very fine mill of corn, perfect for tortillas and tamales. You can even get the Masa Corn Flour gluten-free.
Another thing that Mesa Corn Flour is good for is to make a slurry to thicken chili. If you’ve ever gotten one of those box kits for seasoning chili, that little packet you mix with water to thicken the chili at the end is actually Mesa.
The recipe I’m going to share today is my basic tortilla recipe. You can play around with it – add some spices or other flavors to change things up. I think the straight flour tortilla with some chopped herbs or cilantro would be great.
Hand Pressed Tortillas
4 cups Flour or Mesa Corn or combination
1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 cup Lard (Crisco in a can will also work)
1 1/4 cups Water, warmed
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon. Work in the lard using your finger tips until it disappears into the blend of dry ingredients.
Measure tap water into a two-cup glass measuring cup. Zap the water in the microwave for about a minute. Slowly add the water to the flour mixture as you stir to blend. Once all the water has been added, work the dough to form a large ball.
Place the dough out on a large piece of plastic wrap and form into a long, thick rope about 15 to 18 inches long, about an inch and a half thick. The dough should feel warm to the touch.
Wrap the dough and set aside for 30 minutes to rest.
While the dough is resting, cut squares of parchment paper to place between each tortilla. Depending upon the side of the finished tortilla you will need somewhere between 30 and 36 squares, give or take a few.
Depending upon the size of your tortilla press (if using) and the size you want your finished tortillas to be, when the dough has finished resting, cut it into equal pieces. I like mine small, hand-held size – a little larger than a street taco, but not a big burrito. Mine are cut into one-inch pieces.
Once cut, roll the pieces into a ball. Using the same piece of plastic warp, cover the balls and let rest 10 minutes.
To press the tortillas, place a piece of parchment paper on your press. Center a tortilla ball. Place a second piece of paper on top, press slightly with the palm of your hand. This will anchor the tortilla in place. Close the press, press down. Remove the tortilla, still between the papers.
Continue until all the tortillas are made. At this point you can use them or store them for later use. If storing, stack the tortillas into manageable stacks, about 5 or 6 per stack. Keep the paper between the tortillas, slide into a gallon size zip-lock bag. Close the bag almost all the way, press out excess air, then close tightly. Store flat in the refrigerator. When ready to cook, take out what you need and let the tortillas come to temperature before frying. About 10 to 15 minutes on the counter will do the trick.
If you don’t have a tortilla press, that’s okay. Place the ball between two pieces of paper. Flatten as much as possible by hand, then roll out with a rolling-pin.
To cook the tortillas, a heavy cast iron skillet or cast iron tortilla pan works best. I got my pan from a flea market and I love it!
Heat pan over medium-high heat. Spray with a little cooking spray. Fry tortillas, one at a time, until nicely golden, then flip and fry up the other side. Stack them on a plate or in a tortilla dish until ready to serve.
You can serve these tortillas any way you like. Great with eggs in the morning, or make the corn version for soft tacos or with other meat fillings.