Why make your own tortillas? Try these reasons:
1) They’re fast and easy, especially if you get a designated tortilla press. As much as I tend to do things the hard way, I knew that trying to slap slap the corn masa material into thin cakes, with the expertise of a Mexican artisan, was beyond my abilities or patience level. This is the same philosophy I follow when I use a pasta machine to churn out noodles — invest in the right materials or machines that are designed to do one thing, really well.
2) Anything made fresh at home tastes better than what you buy in the store. We are fortunate enough to have a tortilla factory 10 miles from the grocery store where I usually shop, and one time, the tortillas were still warm in the package — but even so, they don’t compare to what I make at home.
3) Corn is a big genetically modified product, and if you are unfamiliar with the term GMO, you might want to start reading up on it. The issue is controversial, but it’s certainly not boring, and I highly recommend Marie-Monique Robin’s book, The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption, and the Control of the World’s Food Supply. Yep, with a title like that it’s not hard to figure out Robin’s, or my, take on GMOs, but suffice it to say — large corporations are making big changes, real fast, and some of us small people want to get off the merry-go-round for a few minutes and stop feeling dizzy.
So let’s make some tortillas. Next week, we’ll use them in Mexi-Thai Chicken Fusion Delusion, so be back with me then (even if you don’t make your own tortillas, join me next week; you can use commercial corn tortillas for the recipe).
Homemade Tortillas: (makes four tortillas about the size of a CD)
1 cup masa harina flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Masa because all
of this company’s products originate from identity preserved, non-genetically modified seed stock
1 Tablespoon butter, softened
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 – 1 cup warm water (probably around 3/4 cup)
Wash and dry your hands. Mixing the dough together is easier to do with the equipment God gave you as opposed to a spoon.
Sift the masa harina and salt together; mix in the butter until crumbly. Add 1/2 cup of the water and stir in — if you insist — or squeeze in with your fingers. Add more water until the dough is moist but not overly sticky. You really can’t go wrong here; if you add too much water and the mass is sloshy, it’ll dry out after a few minutes. If you don’t add enough so that the mass is dry and crumbly, just sprinkle on more water.
Knead the dough by pushing it against your two hands five or six times, as if you were doing isometric exercises. Divide the dough into four portions and keep covered. Pull out that tortilla press — or, if you are intent on making yourself miserable, try to pat the things out the way the professional tortilla makers do, or roll out with a rolling pin. But I’d really, really recommend the press.
When you use the press, cover the bottom with plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Take one of the four pieces of dough, press it gently between your hands to flatten, then set it in the middle of the press. Lay another piece of plastic on top, so that the dough is sandwiched between plastic. Cover with the top of the press and squeeze down. Peel the flattened tortilla off of the plastic (if the tortilla sticks and won’t peel off, it’s too wet. Give it another try, or add a little more masa flour to dry out.)
Heat a griddle on high. I used a pancake griddle set at 475 degrees; my son prefers a cast iron pan heated to very, very hot. Toss on a tortilla and let sit 10 seconds. Flip. Let cook 20-30 seconds more; flip again; cook another 20-30 seconds and set aside in a clean towel to keep warm. Cook the remaining tortillas the same way.
Eso es. You’ve got tortillas, friend.
Sometimes, you spend money to save money, as in buying a tortilla press to make your own tortillas. It’s relatively inexpensive, and if you eat enough tortillas, the purchase will pay for itself in little time indeed.
The more you can learn to do for yourself, the more independent, creative, and confident you will become — and, you’ll save money, because a key component to saving money is doing things yourself, the right way, as opposed to paying others to do them for you. I talk about this in my book, Live Happily on Less, which shows you how to make the lifestyle choices that work for you. As one reader put it:
“It’s so nice to hear someone giving wise counsel without making you feel guilty if you don’t change your whole life to follow their advice. A lot of her suggestions have to do with deciding what’s really important for YOU and spending your money in that area while skimping somewhere else. She does all of this with grace and wit, so the book is entertaining as well as practical.” — Amazon Reader Review