Tasty Tuesday – Tortillas
I usually don’t like having two Tasty Tuesdays in a row, without another post in between, but it’s been busy, busy around here, so I’ll just have to deal with it, I suppose. Eh, who really cares anyways – it’s food. I like food.
This week’s Tasty Tuesday is another thing I have really come to love making here in Thailand, that I never did before moving out of the States – flour tortillas. Well over a year ago, I posted about making tacos for supper one night in Lopburi, but I was still too new at the tortilla-making game that I didn’t want to to post any sort of recipe until I was sure I had found one that was wonderful. Well, enough time has now passed, enough recipes have been tried, and plenty enough rounds of tortillas have been made to declare that I now have my favorite recipe that I will use always and forever, amen.
Seeing as most recipes use some sort of lard, shortening, or heavy fat substance, I originally wanted to find a recipe that was a bit lighter. Not to mention the fact that shortening and lard aren’t something I can easily come by over here anyhow. So, after testing out 5 or 6 recipes (2 of them using shortening, just because I wanted to see the difference), I just kept going back to the very first one I ever used. It was the most consistent, best tasting, and least complicated – so, why not?
The recipe originally comes from Eating Well magazine’s website, with a couple of minor changes from me. One was that their idea is to freeze a small portion of flour with your choice of vegetable oil, so it acts like shortening when blending together with your flour (similar to when making a pie crust). I, however, didn’t like having to wait another 30 minutes for that to happen, so after doing that the first couple of times, I just decided to use the oil straight out of the bottle – and, it works just fine! That’s exactly how I’ve been doing it ever since, and it turns out perfect every time. The other change I made is the number of tortillas I can make out of the recipe. I tend to like bigger tortillas (halfway between what packages usually label to be “taco” sized and “burrito” sized), so I can tuck the ends in before picking up my tacos. After all, who likes their filling to fall out when they’re trying to eat? Not me.
So, here you go. The recipe, and a few tips on how to make them.
Hand-Rolled Flour Tortillas
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling out the tortillas
- 3 tablespoons oil (canola, soy, veg blend – anything light – I use rice bran)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup warm water
1. Add both flour and salt to a large mixing bowl and give them a good stir.
2. Measure out your water and add oil to water. Give them a stir, too.
3. Add your wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until they come together. (Keep in mind that the dough will be in large clumps rather than a nice smooth ball. If all of the dry ingredients haven’t been dampened, add just a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it all comes together.) Scoop the dough out of the bowl and knead for a few minutes until smooth. It should be a medium-stiff consistency; definitely not firm, but not quite as soft as most bread dough.
4. Divide the dough into small balls, according to how many you would like to make – 12 for smaller, 10 for medium, 8 for large enough to make good-sized burritos. Making the balls as smooth as possible is key in helping you roll out nice circles later on, so check out this tutorial on YouTube to see how to do that well (I didn’t like her recipe, but I used her method for making smooth balls which starts at 1:15). Let the balls rest on a plate, covered, for at least 30 minutes to make the dough easier to roll out later.
5. Lightly flour your work surface (counter top, marble slab, smooth glass cutting board, or my personal favorite – a cloth pastry frame), and flatten one ball with the palm of your hand. Lightly roll a few times with a rolling pin, then rotate the dough a quarter turn. Roll a few times again, then rotate a quarter turn. Repeat the process until your tortilla is as thin as you can go, without being see-through. It’ll take a little practice, but once you’ve got it, you will no longer have to worry about amoeba shaped tortillas and all will be right in the world.
6. Place tortilla carefully (not letting it fold or wrinkle up) onto a hot griddle and watch for bubbles to form. After about 20 seconds, flip the tortilla over and cook for another 20 seconds or so. You want the tortilla to be white and cooked through, and some little brown spots on the bubbles are just fine. Be careful not to let them get too brown though, as the tortillas will get stiff pretty quick.
7. Keep finished tortillas wrapped in a towel to keep them warm and flexible as you work on the rest.
** A few things I’ve found to be very important in making great tortillas are – not letting the dough get too wet, being sure to allow the dough to rest for 30-40 minutes (or else it’ll be like trying to roll spring-loaded silly putty), rolling them out as thin as I can to keep them flexible, and flipping them quickly so they don’t get tough.
Now, if you’ve not made homemade flour tortillas before, it’ll probably take a couple of rounds to get the hang of it. But, once you’ve got it, it is SO worth it. Packaged ones just seem so dry and bland to me now. Homemade ones don’t tear when you stuff them with juicy meat, tomatoes, melty cheese, and salsa. And, seriously, if you like making quesadillas, homemade tortillas will give you that wonderful crisp outside, chewy inside goodness that you can only seem to find at Mexican restaurants. Mmmmmm…. I’m so glad I made a double batch this week!