Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Make Corn Tortillas - Mexican Wedding Inspiration

My sister-in-law and I were lounging by the pool in Playa del Carmen when she suggested that I pay tribute to my Mexican wedding through a genuine Mexican dish. Genious idea! My mind instantly dazed back to an authentic Mayan meal we had the day before when we toured the Chichen Itza ruins. The restaurant was in a small Mexican village and had an adorable Mayan woman making fresh corn tortillas – I have since named her The Tortilla Goddess. The Tortilla Goddess sat next to a round flamed griddle, which I have since learned is called a Comal. A Comal has a real fire underneath heating the surface – the experience felt pre-historic, not like camping but like our tortilla chef was directly from an ancient Mayan civilization. The tourists and I watched as The Tortilla Goddess methodically shaped the corn dough into round tortilla shapes. She then placed the tortillas on the Comal, and with her bare fingers flipped the tortillas and distributed the corn tortillas to the salivating tourists. My brother and I wondered how the heck she didn’t burn her fingers?!? My husband suspected calluses.

Now back from Mexico I decided to research how to make authentic corn tortillas - The Tortilla Goddess truly inpired me. It also seemed like a reasonable skill to learn on my mission to become a self taught chef. What I found is that making a corn tortilla is surprisingly simple. The main ingredient is special corn masa flour. I thought it would be a nightmare trying to locate this specific flour, but in fact I found it at my local, regular grocery store. It’s always nice to not hunt the entire city to find ONE ingredient. Here is a photo of corn masa flour I used:

Corn Tortilla Recipe

For 8 Tortillas

1 Cup Corn Masa Flour
1/8 tsp Salt
2/3 Cup Warm Water

For 16 Tortillas
2 Cups Corn Masa Flour
¼ tsp Salt
1 ¼ Cups Warm Water

Directions adapted from the back of the Maseca Flour bag:

Mixing Instructions:
Combine Flours, Salt and Warm water. Mix with your hands for 2 minutes until a soft dough forms. If dough feels dry add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. Once dough is made, cover the bowl with a towel to make sure the dough doesn’t dry out.

Directions for Shaping Tortillas:
Warm a non-stick griddle/fry pan on Medium-High heat. Next place a piece of plastic wrap on a cutting board. Then scoop a small 1 inch dough ball from the dough bowl into your hands. Round the small piece of dough with the palm of your hands, and then flatten with your plams as much as possible. Then place the semi-flattened dough on the plastic wrap and proceeded to further flatten and shape the dough into a tortilla. Gently peel the plastic wrap from the dough, and then place it onto the warmed griddle for about 50 seconds on each side.

The great thing about these tortillas is you can make them in advance. To store them you can keep the tortillas in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can re-heat the tortillas in the microwave or a skillet on medium-high for 15 seconds on each side.

I’ve seen a number of corn tortilla directions saying that you need a tortilla press. Absolutely not! I see a tortilla press as just another tool that wouldn’t get used much, but take up a lot of space in my small kitchen. I say the hand-shaped tortillas have more character and food with a little character always tastes better, right?!!

1 comment:

  1. I have seen the tortilla goddess,she is amazing! a couple of comments about making homemade tortillas, my understanding of the processing that the maseca people do causes the corn to lose some of its nutrients and natural oils. so what we do here is to add about a tablespoon each of oil and honey when we make them, it makes a huge difference...