In June when I visited Blogher Food in Seattle, my friend Alexis introduced me to a wonderful store called Sur La Table in Pike Place Market. In a store filled floor to ceiling with every cooking item I could ever want, I found something that I've been wanting for a long time-something really simple, in fact, but that I hadn't seen here at home.
Surprisingly enough, the item was a $20 tortilla press. If you've ever rolled out tortillas, which I have, it's a tedious, annoying process. Made of cast iron, the press is heavy enough to squeeze a ball of dough out to tortilla shape in just seconds, alleviating the rolling and re-rolling as I curse at the fact that I can never seen to get them quite perfect. It's not the ease of preparation that is the advantage of making your own tortillas, by far the biggest advantage is the taste. Before I made my own, I thought I hated corn tortillas.
If you've ever had those awful, rubbery corn tortillas from the store, I don't blame you if you don't like them. I personally could never stomach them. Home made corn tortillas, however, are a completely different animal-full of flavor, soft and pliable, not rubbery at all. Using just corn masa, salt, and water, there are surprisingly few ingredients compared to commercially available corn tortillas and really, they aren't hard to make at all. If you can make pancakes, you can cook a tortilla!
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2 cups corn tortilla mix (Maseca Brand)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
Whisk the tortilla mix and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the water until dough comes together, then use your hands to knead the dough in the bowl for a few minutes. The dough should be somewhat dry but will stick together when you gather it into a bowl. If it’s crumbly, add a little more water 1 tbsp at a time. If it’s very wet and sticky, add a little more corn masa mix.
Scoop out the masa mix by heaping tablespoons. This will make fairly small tortillas (about 4-5 inches in diameter) but it’s great to have many small ones because then you can fill them with all sorts of different fillings. Small is a good thing! Plan for about 4-5 per person. Form the dough into a ball.
Line the tortilla press with plastic film , then place the ball of dough in the center and press. Remove from the press carefully and set on a plate. If the dough rips, don’t worry-you can just roll it all back up into a ball.
Heat a cast iron skillet on medium and brush with oil. Let the pan heat up before adding 1 or 2 of the tortillas and allowing to cook for about 1-2 minutes. They will char a bit and curl up a little on the edges before you flip and cook the other side for about another minute. Remove to a plate.
Continue with the remaining tortillas until they are all cooked. Ideally, they are best fresh and served warm. If you aren’t going to eat them all, wrap up the remaining tortillas in plastic film once they have cooled and store in a re-sealable plastic bag for a few days.
Filling these little guys is loads of fun, but keep it simple. Use only a few fillings at a time, and if you keep things fresh you can even skip the cheese. My family loves spiced chicken, fresh mango salsa and guacamole, but you can fill them with whatever suits you. Their small size makes them fantastic for little hands, too.
Makes approximately 2 dozen tortillas