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Fresh Tortillas: Life is Good in Mexico

 

Video shot on location by Maryanne Carmack

I have to say adios to my Mexican food adventure and move on but not before I bring attention to the tortilla.  A great tortilla is a marvel: warm, fluffy yet dense with a chewy texture.  One bite and you begin to curse the grocery store variety for its lack of character and its boring uniformity. Luckily for us while we were vacationing in Guadalajara Mexico, we were treated to glorious handmade tortillas at least three times a day: as the base for hearty huevos rancheros, wrapped around tender lengua for lunch, and as an ancient utensil for folding around mole de pollo for dinner. Nothing beats tortillas made from scratch.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to taste fresh, handmade flour tortillas — and you’re only purchasing the doughy, pasty, nasty, mass-produced, pre-bagged kind for sale in your grocery store, you do NOT know what you’re missing.  All of the ingredients combine to produce a feeling of immense comfort and satisfaction.  The warm tortillas melt in your mouth, leaving behind only scant traces of flour and shortening, the tastes of home.

The good news is that you can make tortillas yourself!  Trust me.  You can.  And once you’ve made a batch of tortillas yourself, at home, you’ll never want the store-bought kind again.

Chewy Flour Tortillas

These tortillas have real body and taste; they are perfect for gorditas, fajitas and eating out of hand.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

3/4 cup lukewarm milk (2% is fine)

Stir together the flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and vegetable oil to the lukewarm milk and whisk briefly to incorporate. Gradually add the milk to the flour, and work the mixture into a dough. It will be sticky. Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with flour and knead vigorously for about 2 minutes (fold and press, fold and press). The kneading will take care of the stickiness. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rest for 15 minutes (This dough will not rise, but it needs a rest). Divide your dough into 8 balls of equal size, cover them, and let them rest again for about 20 minutes. Avoid letting them touch, if you don’t want them to stick together. Dust your work surface with flour. Working one at a time, remove each piece of dough and pat it into a 5-inch circle. With a rolling pin, roll out the tortilla, working from the center out, until you have a 7- or 8-inch tortilla a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the tortilla to a hot, dry skillet or griddle. It will begin to blister. Let it cook for 30 seconds, turn it, and let the other side cook for 30 seconds. Remove the tortilla, place it in a napkin-lined basket and cover with aluminum foil. Repeat for the remaining tortillas.

Although flour tortillas, like corn tortillas, are best if eaten right after they are made, these tortillas will freeze well. Wrap them tightly in plastic, and they will keep, frozen, for several weeks. To serve tortillas that have been frozen, let them thaw and come to room temperature, then wrap them in aluminum foil and heat them in a warm oven.

-MC

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