Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Corn Tortillas

Tortilla making is a wonderfully mindful communal activity. Your family or guests will enjoy making their own tortillas. You can enjoy the savings. My five pound package of Masa Flour cost less than one 10 pack of tortillas.

Corn Tortillas

Ingredients for 8 tortillas:

Nutrition facts (6" in diameter tortilla)

1 cup Masa Flour* (do not pack)
1/8 t salt
2/3 cup warm water

Mixing it all together:

Mix the Masa Flour, salt and warm water very well for a couple minutes with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. If the dough feels dry, add more water one tablespoon at a time. A pinch of dough should feel rather like the lobe of your ear. Let the dough rest a couple minutes. Do you think it is easy to be beaten about with a wooden spoon?

Separate the dough into eight equal sized balls of dough. Cover with a damp cloth to keep them moistened until cookery time. Don't let them sit all day or they'll dry out and you will make corn crumbles instead of tortillas.

a little on the thick side, but it worked great!
Think gordita from "that place".
Work with one ball at a time. Gently press into a round disk. Place the disk between a folded sheet of wax paper, leave room around all sides to allow for expansion.  Flatten the disk with your hand or rolling pin, until it is about 5-6 inches in diameter. After the pressing, gently remove the wax paper from each side and dust with more Masa. That way you can slip them right off the paper into the pan for cookery.

Let the eight uncooked tortillas happily sit in their wax paper holding bins while you prep the skillet.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Gently tip and slide the tortilla into the heated skillet. You may have to experiment with technique for this. I am a klutz and find that if I try to pick them up and lay them in the pan, I make a great mess of the fragile uncooked things. Thus, the tipping and slipping.

Tortillas only need to cook about 30-50 seconds on each side (if you made fat tortillas, it will take a little longer). Flip to cook the other side when the first has a few nice brown bits. Watch closely so they do not burn. It sure doesn't look like the thing will hold together, does it? So fragile before cooking. A few seconds in a skillet, and you can fold and toss them about with wild abandon...ok, maybe not wild abandon, just general abandon.

You can press the second tortilla while the first is cooking, etc..., instead of prepping them all at once. That makes it a fast very busy process, but it’s fun and you don't have to worry about the tortilla drying out or sticking to the wax paper. It’s good to make that method a two person event. One can watch the cooking tortilla and the other can do the pressing. Watch out for that third person that wants to do all the eating.

As the tortillas finish cooking, place them in a warm cotton cloth or in a tortilla warmer until all are ready and dinner is served. Enjoy Mindfully.


*Masa Flour is corn flour that has been treated with calcium hydroxide to make the corn more digestible - the package may just say "treated with lime". It does not mean lime juice. Look for it in the ethnic section of your supermarket.  The package may say "Masa Harina". Masa Flour is used to make many corn flour based Mexican treats.

Do not use regular corn meal for this recipe. That would be most unmindful indeed.

It may take a bit of practice to get the thickness just right. I mangled a few before they started to resemble tortillas. Fortunately, Masa Flour is inexpensive, the dough quick to mix, and the tortillas fast to cook. If you mess up, just mix some more dough!

Try adding a tablespoon or two of diced Hatch Chiles to the Masa mixture. Hot or mild Hatches are fine. Cut back a bit on the water a tablespoon as the chiles will add its own liquid.

To make tostadas, allow to cool and then fry in hot oil. Top them with frijoles and veggies. 

To make gorditas, don't roll them quite so thin.

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