Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Ultimate Taco Project - Corn Tortillas

We in the yellow house really like Mexican food. Doug makes great fish tacos exceptional tamales and really good guacamole. When it comes to cooking Mexican food, I like to leave it to Doug. It's one of those meals I don't cook. I am, however, very good at cutting limes, opening Coronas and making Chillatas.

Summer of 2009 we worked all season on The Ultimate Burger Project. (Check out the first post here.) Summer 2010 was a blur and there were no projects that really called to me. And then I decided the Ultimate Taco Project needed to be addressed. While as stated above, much of the work will be in Doug's hands there are a few things I'll be bringing to the table.

Case and point...

Corn tortillas!

We had talked for a looong time about making our own and then talked a loooong time about purchasing a tortilla press. This required a trip to Sur La Table (gasp!) and recently, I finally got around to it. Side note: W-S now carries a press, same price, online only. Just sayin'.

They couldn't be easier. The toughest part is getting to a Sur La Table. (gasp!) Anyway, masa harina, salt and water. Masa harina, is "the Spanish word for "dough", masa is the traditional dough used to make corn tortillas. It's made with sun-or fired dried corn kernels that have been cooked in lime water( water mixed with calcium oxide). After having been cooked and soaked in lime water overnight, the wet corn is ground masa. Masa harina literally "dough flour", is flour made from dried masa." Gosh, I love The Food Lover's Companion! I need to be thorough, after all, my involvement in this project is limited.

I won't include a recipe since most are very similar and you'll find one on the back of the flour bag. I will share a few tips I've picked up through reading and experience, albeit limited.
When making the dough add water judiciously. It should stick together like Play-Doh but not be too sticky.

If you find it's too dry as you break it into pieces, wet your hands to add a bit more water to the dough and prevent it from sticking. Keep the portions covered with a damp flour sack towel to prevent the dough from drying out. Smash dough slightly before placing it into the press. For a 4" tortilla you need about an ounce of dough. Larger tortillas obviously require a bit more, maybe 1 1/2 to 2 ounces.

Place the dough ball onto the tortilla press that's been lined with a plastic bag. Use a ziploc bag rather than plastic wrap, it's easier to manage. I cut the bag so it opened like a book, placed the bag in the press with the "binding side" to the back of the press. When I was done, I left the bag, wiped of crumbs in the press to use again the next time.

As you press them, pop them into a super hot cast iron pan. Take a few minutes to tap them gently with your finger tips between flips to create air pockets for a light tortilla. As they finish, place them on a flour sack towel to cool but stay moist. You can use them right away or wrap them in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out in the fridge.

Ready to fill.

Before we ate them with some fast pork tacos, we tossed them onto the gas burner to warm and brown them up a bit. They were delicious and far superior to anything I've ever bought.

Next up? Flour tortillas.

Horchata, too. You've gotta drink horchata with a spicy taco.

Check back soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... could have made your way to Aurora to any of the Mexican markets to get your tortilla maker...then you could of stopped by and say "hi"! :)