Tortillas

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  As you may have gathered by now due to the lack of related recipes appearing on the site this week, we don’t do much to celebrate here.  I’m not entirely sure why as we love any excuse to eat Mexican food; in fact, I just made our favorite chicken taquitos last night.  But for whatever reason, dinner tonight probably won’t involve Mexican food or Coronas or margaritas.  I don’t even remember celebrating Cinco de Mayo in college, and if ever there were a time I would have, surely that would be it. 

My one nod to the holiday was to finally gather enough courage to get in my kitchen and try my hand at homemade flour tortillas earlier this week.  These tortillas were one of the first things I ever pinned on Pinterest and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them since – it was just a matter of working up the nerve to try them.  I’ve also become hopelessly addicted to Pinterest in that time, but that’s another story for another time…

Tortillas

At first glance, these tortillas seem really easy – just 4 ingredients in the dough, and only about a minute to cook each one.  But I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by recipes like this in the past so I was nervous.  My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to roll the dough thin enough and wound wind up with thick, rubbery tortillas.  I was so pleasantly surprised when the dough handled beautifully – it’s not very sticky and is silky smooth in consistency.  Even when rolled paper thin, it didn’t tear or spring back.  The cooking process proved to be the trickiest part of the process and only because it took a few tortillas to find the right temperature for my cast iron pan (similar to the way the first pancake or crepe never comes out quite as good as the later ones).  I referred to this post from Our Best Bites for visual clues on cooking the tortillas and recommend checking it out if you have any problems.

Tortillas

If you’ve never had warm, fresh flour tortillas I can assure you they are leaps and bounds better than the ones available at your grocery store.  There simply isn’t any basis for comparison.  So far I’ve been content to eat a few tortillas as is, but next up I’ve got my eye on these fish tacos from Shawnda.  With the minimal effort required to make this recipe, I think we’ll be stashing these in our freezer from now on!

Homemade Flour Tortillas
from Rick Bayless 

12 oz (about 2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
5 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening (or a mixture of the two)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup very warm water

Add the flour and shortening (or lard) to a large bowl.  Use a pastry cutter (or your fingers) to work the fat into the flour – you want it incorporated completely.  Combine the salt and water in a measuring cup and pour about 3/4 of the water over the flour/shortening mixture.  Use a fork to stir to stir together until all of the dry ingredients are moistened, adding the rest of the water (and even a little more), if needed.  Turn the dough onto your work surface and knead until smooth – it’ll only take a minute or two.  The dough shouldn’t be very sticky, but if it is, add a tiny bit of flour to your hands so you can work with it.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball.  Put them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes.  This rest time helps the dough relax so it’ll be easier to roll.

Set a heavy skillet (I used cast iron) over medium to medium-high heat.  Working with one piece of dough at a time, set on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 7-inch circle.  Add only enough flour so you can work with the dough – it will be quite thin by the time it reaches 7 inches in diameter.

Transfer to the preheated pan – you should hear a sizzle when you place the dough in the pan and should see bubbles forming across the surface almost immediately.  Cook for 30-45 seconds on the first side, then flip and cook 30-45 seconds on the other side.  The tortilla should be golden brown and might have a few dark spots, but you don’t want to overcook it or it will be crisp rather than pliable.  Transfer to a plate and cover with a kitchen towel.

Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, and continue stacking them under the towel.  Serve warm, or let cool then wrap in plastic and keep at room temperature for a few days, or pop in the freezer.  Reheat in the microwave wrapped in damp paper towels.

Makes 12 tortillas