perfecting the perfect food


Not long ago I posted about making my own Greek yogurt – about keeping food whole, knowing what’s in it, and rising to a culinary challenge – basically embracing my inner control-freak. Well, this post certainly falls right in that same category.

Tacos are perhaps the perfect food, at least in my eyes. I like them with beef, or chicken, or pork or fish… or even vegetarian for that matter. I like them at sit-down restaurants, from taco trucks or even <gasp> fast food (I almost never eat fast food, but if I am going to indulge, chances are there’s going to be tacos involved). Full fat versions with crispy shells topped with sour cream, to healthier versions – a simple corn tortilla with meat that has simmered, and soaked up every last bit of spice, topped with hand cut salsa. While I like them all, it’s the latter version I try to make the most.

So you can guess that while flipping through the June ’12 edition of Bon Appetit, that the article ¡Tacos! ¡Tacos! ¡Tacos! certainly caught my attention. As I drooled over the recipes on the subsequent pages, the first thing they talked about making was fresh corn tortillas. Much like the Greek yogurt, I have always bought my tortillas. There is a company, Casa Valdez, just 30 miles away that makes great ones, they are easy to find and I like to support the local guy. But this article jogged my memories of a tortilla press that I remember my mom using when I was a kid. I called her and yes, she still had it and I could certainly borrow it. It was a sure sign it was time for me to try my hand at making my own corn tortillas.

(On a complete side note here, there’s no doubt why I am the way I am… when my mom delivered the tortilla press, it came complete with its original directions that must be 40+ years old!)

Then when I read the recipe, and saw how easy it seemed, it was almost embarrassing that I hadn’t been making them all along. Since their recipe said it made 24, I cut the recipe in half for this first foray into tortillas.

Fresh Corn Tortillas
Makes 12

1 cup (or more) masa (corn tortilla mix, preferable Maseca brand)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
vegetable oil for brushing

Yep… that’s it… only 3 ingredients. I would have thought for sure there was some oil in the recipe.

Combine masa and salt in a small bowl and add 3/4 cup water. Knead until a dough ball forms – it should feel firm and springy and look slightly dry (think Play-Doh). If it’s too dry, add a tad bit more water and if it’s too wet work in a little more masa.

Measure 1 heaping tablespoon dough and roll in palms to form a ball.

Place a sheet of waxed paper on the tortilla press, put the ball in the center and top with another piece of waxed paper. Press. Tortilla should be small – about the size of a hamburger bun. If tortilla crumbles the dough is too dry and if it sticks it’s too wet. Repeat, pressing out a couple more tortillas.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, lightly brushing with oil.

Cook 2-3 tortillas until charred in spots and edges start to curl, 1-2 minutes. Turn and cook through, about 15 seconds.

Transfer to a kitchen towel and fold over to keep warm. Repeat in batches, with remaining dough. Serve warm.

Now, a chance to learn from my mistakes:
• I had too much dough in mine as I only ended up with 7 tortillas – about half of what this recipe was suppose to yield.
• This might also explain why mine took way longer to cook and weren’t as pliable as I hoped.
• I started out with a non-stick pan and I think in hind sight, the cast iron is the way to go.
• Also, I had more success when the heat was on high, but that may have had more to do with there being too much dough to start with.

I think I may have been tricked by the simplicity of the ingredients and the process. There’s clearly some technique here that will need to be mastered.  I’m guessing there will need to be many more tortillas made before I get it right, and many more tacos eaten along the way. I’m pretty sure I’m up for both.

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About bistroonesix

I have an interest in all things food and am lucky enough to be surrounded by people that share this same passion. There’s never a shortage of inspiration or partners in collaboration. Some of my happiest memories involve big tables covered with food, plenty of wine, and extra chairs pulled up to accommodate all the friends and family. If I can help facilitate these kinds of evenings, well then I’d say this is a great hobby to have. I live in Boise, Idaho with my husband and 2 adorable cats.

2 comments

  1. joyce

    Griffin’s former nannie who was Mexican made tortillas for Ashley and Gary and they were dynamite. She probably has the secrets!

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