My dear friend Kelly showed me a few things. See, she married a fellow from El Salvador. The cuisine there is slightly different from what we know as Mexican food. It's good stuff. I have not made thick tortillas like her in ages. She showed me how to make thick corn tortillas. For a while I made them all the time. Then, for some reason, I stopped. I guess we got tired of them.
It took me a while to actually get around to making tortillas. Things kept coming up. I'd run out of time. I'd forget. I'd make something else completely different for dinner. Then, I finally just broke down and did it. This time, I made them with just flour, not with masa harina.
Let me just say one thing about these homemade tortillas. They won't be as thin as store-bought ones. Store-bought tortillas are usually loaded with nasty preservatives to keep them pliable and free of mold, as well as chemical compounds to enhance the texture or appearance. The additives also make them taste funny.
Make these, but eat them right away. You won't be disappointed.
- 3 cups unbleached AP flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon shortening
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
1. Combine dry ingredients first. Using a pastry cutter, blend in the shortening.
2. Add the water and mix. You will need to get your hand in this. It will turn into a dough-like biscuit dough or pie dough. You don't have to mix it until it's smooth. It's better if you don't overmix.
3. Knead the dough about 30 seconds on a lightly floured surface. You don't want it sticky.
4. Divide the dough and roll into little balls. Aim for 8 to 12 pieces. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest about 10 minutes. If you live in a very dry climate, it's important to cover the dough so it won't dry out. 10 minutes is enough time to mess up dough here.
5. Put a piece of wax paper on your work surface. Lightly dust it with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out one dough ball until about about 1/8" thick. Repeat for other dough balls. You can also use a traditional tortilla press, a palote, if you happen to have one or feel like buying one.
6. Preheat a frying pan, or comal, over medium-high heat. (You could even use an electric griddle to cook more than one at a time.) Remove wax paper from flattened dough before putting it in the pan. Cook your dough about 2 minutes. It will puff up and get brown spots on the bottom. Flip and cook until done, about 2 more minutes. Set aside, covered, while you cook the rest.
7. Enjoy right away filled with traditional taco fillings, layer on your toppings, then fold up and enjoy!
8. If you want "traditional Mexican" tacos, top your meat, pork carnitas, shredded beef, or chicken, with chopped cilantro, diced onion, and hot sauce like Tapatio.
9. If you want Americanized gordita tacos, like many taco franchises, use taco-seasoned ground beef, shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, and shredded cheddar cheese.
10. If you want fish tacos, use fried or grilled fish or shrimp, shredded cabbage or slaw, salsa, tomatoes and a little sour cream.