Friday, August 3, 2012

Back to Basics: Easy Corn Tortillas

Okay so maybe tortillas aren't a basic recipe for a lot people. But they should be! They taste 145032x better than store-bought tortillas. I like making my tacos with corn tortillas simply because of the intense corn taste. The best part about this is that you don't need a tortilla press. Uh-huh. If you have a tortilla press...well you're probably already making tortillas. But if you've got a counter, a heavy pan, and a rolling pin you can mimic a tortilla press.

Three ingredients. For realz. You need: Masa harina, warm water, and a little salt. The most common brand of masa harina is Maseca, which I've always been able to find in my local grocery store. Look in the section with the Latin foods. Double check the package to make sure you're not getting the kind used for tamales. The label you want to look for is going to be yellow and green.

Mix the masa and the salt.

Add the warm water and mix gently with a wooden spoon. You want a consistency a bit like wet sand. If it's too dry and crumbles, add water a tablespoon at a time.

Form the dough into a ball. It's the easiest way I know of to get evenly sized balls of dough.

Divide it in half, then each half into 3 balls.

Boom! Six balls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Maybe a little larger.

Place a ball in between two sheets of plastic wrap.

Use a heavy pan press down on the dough ball. Make sure you apply the pressure evenly so that the dough flattens evenly.

Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 5 inches in diameter. You probably won't have a perfect circle, but it's homemade! It's not supposed to look perfect.

Carefully peel the tortilla off the plastic wrap and put it in a smoking hot cast iron skillet. Be patient when removing the plastic wrap because these can be a little fragile.

A couple of minutes on each side and you've got beautifully charred tortillas. While each tortilla is cooking prepare the next one so that you don't leave the hot pan empty for too long. Keep them warm by covering with a clean cloth on a warm plate.

Seriously good. Seriously better when they're fresh. They take tacos at home to another level.

Easy Corn Tortillas (makes six 5-inch tortillas)

1 c masa harina
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 - 3/4 c warm water

  • Mix the masa harina and salt in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup warm water and stir gently with a wooden spoon. If the dough appears too dry and crumbles you may continue adding warm water a tablespoon at a time until you reach a consistency like wet sand or playdough. 
  • Start heating a cast iron skillet over high heat. Divide the dough into 6 evenly-sized balls. Place one ball in between two pieces of plastic wrap. Use a heavy pan to press down evenly on the ball. Roll the dough to a diameter of about 5 inches with a rolling pin. Carefully remove the tortilla from the plastic wrap and lay in the hot skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side to get a pretty char. Keep warm by stacking on a warm plate and covering with a clean cloth. While each tortilla is cooking, go ahead and press & roll the next one. Repeat until all six tortillas are cooked. Eat immediately with your favorite toppings!

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