February 14, 2007

Home-made Flour Tortillas

I didn't get out today, or very much yesterday. Thank goodness for the internet, I was able to get my LCB a Valentine's day gift. But I never made it down to the card shop to get a card. We've been in the midst of a snow-rain-sleet-ice storm the last couple of days, and the roads weren't passable. It's been really cold, and windy, and when it gets like that around here, I start thinking about sunny, warm, dry places. Places like Tijuana, or Tecate. Two border towns in Mexico I used to love to visit.

One of the greatest things about spending the day in Mexico, is the food. My daughters and I loved getting fresh tortillas from the tortillarias down there, and "street tacos" from the vendors. Nothing can compare to a freshly made tortilla with a little butter. Of course, tortillas are a staple in Mexico, and they're used for tons of different dishes, but they're also delicious by themselves when they're right off the griddle. Around here, we can find some commercial corn and flour tortillas, but it's nearly impossible to find un-cooked tortillas. And sometimes, that's what I want, so I can cook the tortilla myself. If you try that with store-bought tortillas, they'll either burn, or get over-crisp, like a cracker.

So I headed to an old standby of mine, Allrecipes.com and found exactly one (1) recipe for Whole wheat flour tortillas. Looking that over, and remembering what I saw those wonderful Mexican ladies do, I adapted the recipe for regular flour tortillas which were surprisingly easy to make. Some of these, hot off the griddle, with a dab of butter, and some mariachi music in the background, and for a few minutes, I was able to forget about the wind, snow, ice etc... Felt like being back in Mexico for a bit. Here's the recipe:

5 cups flour
1/2 cup lard
2 tsps salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Put the flour, lard, and salt in a big mixing bowl. With your hands, rub the mixture until it's the consistency of a coarse meal. (when I say "rub the mixture", I took it between both hands and just rubbed it together in the bowl until I couldn't feel any more lard.)
Make a loose mound with a well in the center. Once the water's boiling, pour it into that well, and with a wooden spoon, mix it all together until the dough is smooth.
Roll the dough into golf-ball size balls, and set them on a tray. Once all your dough is rolled, flour your surface, and take one of the balls, and pat it flat. (the original recipe says to let them sit for an hour or so, but I wasn't that patient) With a well-floured rolling pin, roll the tortilla out as thin as you like, I like them to be almost paper-thin. You'll have to keep changing direction with the pin, in order to keep the tortilla round. Another thing I've learned, is you'll want to start in the center of the tortilla and roll towards the edges. Otherwise it'll wrap around the pin. You have to keep flouring the pin too.
Once you have the size you want. Take it right over to a hot, cast-iron skillet, and let it sit there until little bubbles start to form. Once they do, turn it over and cook it for about 30 seconds, then turn it again and cook 30 seconds on that side. Move it to a plate or a tortilla warmer, and start on the next one.
I cooked about 6 of these, and rolled out the rest. The un-cooked ones I put in a zip-lock bag and into the fridge to use later. Now we'll be able to have fresh tortillas anytime we like. I'm just beside myself.

I think I should probably apologize, as I didn't take pictures of this as we did it. But it turned out so well, that I guarantee we'll be making them again, and I'll get some pics posted then.


Julie said...

I was just looking for a flour tortilla recipe!

I have access to good corn tortillas that are fresh made at a tortilleria in Baltimore. They are insanely cheap and insanely delicious. But I have no place to get really decent flour tortillas and I've decided if I want them I'm going to have to make them. So thanks for the recipe!

Charles said...

Whoa, Julie! -- Please let me know where that tortilleria is. I just ordered a tortilla press from Amazon this evening so I can make corn tortillas as well. But up here in Harford county -- it's not easy finding good Mexican food or ingredients. I'd be willing to drive a few miles for some authentic corn tortillas.

Sue(coffeepot) said...

Funny Charles. I made wheat tortillas on Valentines day also.

I use vegetable oil instead of the lard. It makes them more diet friendly.

Charles said...

Hi Sue, -- vegetable oil would make them more diet friendly. The original recipe called for shortening, but I was aiming for the ones I used to get in San Diego. Although, considering I just went in this morning to have my cholesterol checked, I should probably go with a healthier alternative.

Julie said...

It's called Tortilleria and Tacos and it's at 1716 Eastern Ave in Baltimore. It's right by the corner of Eastern and Broadway in Fells Point.

They have excellent tortillas plus they also make tacos that are great and I've had a good posole there. There's also another restaurant on the same block called El Taquito Mexicano which is very good. They're at 1744 Eastern Ave.

Charles said...

Julie -- You're the best! Thanks for the tip.