Saturday, July 7, 2012

My gringa tortillas

Today, I want to share my newest cooking challenge with you. See, one of my goals for the month is to eat down the pantry, so I'm participating in the Pantry Challenge over at Good (Cheap) Eats. In addition, in our never-ending prep to run for the border, we are attempting to become accustomed to eating like locals, as well as making as much of our own food as possible. Sure, we can head to the store and easily buy tortillas for a pretty cheap price. But for the price of the tortillas, we could just buy an entire bag of masa harina. I usually just call this maseca, since that's the most popular brand. So I recently bought a bag of maseca (but not Maseca), thinking I'd attempt to make tortillas.

Today, I set out to do just that, following this super simple but highly-rated recipe. First, per the directions, I mixed 1 3/4 cups of maseca with 1 1/8 cup hot water.

I mixed it well and kneaded it for a bit, until it was wet enough to stick together but dry enough not to stick to my hands - I had to add a little extra water to it, about another 1/8 cup. Then I covered it tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Then I divided the dough into 16 balls. The recipe says 15, but I find continuously dividing into roughly equal halves is easier for me.

I found that the balls of dough were a little too dry, and the edges cracked as I flattened them. They still tasted good, but they just weren't very pretty.

I ended up dipping each one in a little water, kneading it in my hands to get it moist throughout, and then shaping and flattening. Once on the griddle, I let it sit until it started to smoke and no longer stuck to the griddle when I tried to push it to the side. Then I flipped it over and let it go. I usually repeated the flipping a couple times, until they had some little toasted golden-brown spots. Most of the time, the ultimate shape was anything but round. As you can see in the pic, though, the tortillas got progressively less cracked around the edges (moving left to right on the griddle) as I figured out to add a little more water.

My very last tortilla of the bunch, though, was beautiful! I think that I finally figured out a workable technique.

I smooshed the dough into the water, kneaded it well in my hands, re-rolled it into a ball, placed it between the sides of a quart-size ziploc, and used a plate to flatten it. My hint: don't put the plate on top and smoosh down evenly. Instead, put the edge of the plate on the counter so that the plate and the counter form a 45 degree angle. Then flatten the plate over the tortilla, so that it kind of rolls the dough out. Clearly, if we had a tortilla press, it would do the same thing. P-Daddy thinks we need one, but I didn't think using the plate was too bad.

As the tortillas come off the griddle, place them in a towel. Just keep adding until they are all ready. Wrap the towel around them so that the tortillas steam themselves for a few minutes.

When you finish you'll have a gorgeous (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, remember?!) stack of tortillas for everyone to chow down on.

Just load them up with whatever filling you want, like this pork roast that P-Daddy made in an effort to clear out some of the meat in our freezer. YUM!

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