I realize that this probably puts me on some new level of crazy, but I like to make my own tortillas. I make both flour and corn tortillas, and yes, I like my homemade tortillas better than storebought. I don’t make my own every time I need them-I do have a job, you know-but when I have some time it’s a fun and easy undertaking. Tonight for dinner, we are having steak tacos. Rather than go to the store to buy some tortillas, I pulled out my bag of Maseca (that’s the particular brand of corn masa flour or masa harina that I bought at Bi-Lo) and went to work. In case you are wondering where I got this recipe…..it’s on the back of the bag!
Start with two cups of Maseca. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/4 cup of water, and stir. This recipe will make 16 tortillas; if you need fewer, there are proportions provided on the bag.
The directions say to stir for two minutes or until a soft dough forms, and if the dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until you get the right texture. I actually ended up using another 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons). My dough was still very crumbly, so I used the pie dough technique and pressed the dough together into a ball.
Next, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. I did this by cutting the ball in half, forming the halves into balls and cutting those in half, then rolling those quarters into balls and cutting them into quarters. Obviously, I am not too worried about precision; these tortillas are just for me and Philip, and I am not my grandmother (from whom I inherited my love of the kitchen) who used to measure her chocolate chip cookie dough and roll it into perfect balls. She did the same thing with hamburgers, so that each hamburger would be the same size, then she would stack the patties between perfectly cut squares of waxed paper. When it came time to put the cheese on, she would cut the corners off of the cheese so that it wouldn’t melt off of the burgers, If I am not mistaken, cheese slices got placed between waxed paper squares too. Every Saturday night was hamburger night, while Hee-Haw played in the background. I miss my grandmother! But I digress…..
Okay, so now you should roll your 16 pieces of dough into balls, then cover the dough balls with a damp towel. Heat a griddle (you do have a cast iron griddle, right? I got a great deal on this one in the discount section at the Lodge outlet store) flat-side up over medium-high heat while you prepare your tortilla press. What’s that, you say? You don’t have a tortilla press? Okay, you have two options here: buy one (I got mine at Kitchen Collection, or you can order online) or use a rolling pin. If you go with option B, clearly the process is going to move a little more slowly. Get a quart-sized freezer bag and cut it down the sides. I didn’t show this, but I also cut off the top to make it fit the tortilla press (which, by the way, is a 6-inch press).
Now, open your cut bag and put the crease into the hinge of the tortilla press. Put a ball of dough on and press it down, pushing the handle down as hard as you can. If needed, carefully pull the tortilla off the plastic, flip it, and repress to get it a little flatter. My tortillas are not perfectly round, and some of them tore a little. That’s okay. I just used my finger to press them back together, and the ones with the most un-round shape will get made into chips. Don’t judge me.
Now, fling the tortillas onto the hot griddle. Cook for about a minute, then flip and cook for another minute. I got a good rhythm going: put a tortilla on, press another one; flip the first one, put the second one on. Press a third one; take the first one off. Flip the second one, put the third one on….and so on. As you take the tortillas off the griddle, stack them together in a clean towel or in aluminum foil. They’ll stay warm there.
Once all of the tortillas are cooked, you can serve them right away, or you can refrigerate them. Half of mine got made into chips-more on that later. Before I served these, I heated them over the open flame as I described in my fish taco post. Being a do-it-yourselfer in the kitchen is fun!