The more I think about it, the more I feel that Leap Day should be an observed holiday. It only happens once every four years anyway. It’s a bonus day. People should barbeque. Retailers should have sales. (Pardon me if I’m sounding a little cray-cray, I’m nursing a cold and have had a bit of brain fog the past few days.) How about some tortillas? I’ve always wanted to make tortillas. But it’s one of those ideas that got put on the back burner, overshadowed by some cake or cookie or pie.
I can’t actually remember what it was that provoked such an urgency to make tortillas, but a few weeks ago I was on a mission. So I picked up some masa harina. Then I got home and realized that I didn’t really want to roll out the dough by hand and decided that I absolutely had to have a tortilla press. Because one can never have too many gadgets in one’s kitchen.
But then I got distracted by polenta and wild mushrooms and cupcakes and estate sales. And a few weeks passed. And then finally last weekend I made sure to get that tortilla press. And then I busted out a batch of tortillas. In less than thirty minutes.
Once you make your own tortillas, you almost can’t go back to the ones you buy at the grocery store. And really, there isn’t much of a reason to. They’re super easy to make. And they have so much more flavor than store bought version. They’re good on their own, and fantastic with a little avocado, a squirt of lime, and a sprig of cilantro. But I think they’ll be exceptional in a tray of enchiladas. Or chilaquiles. Oooooh…
from D.I.Y. Delicious by Vanessa Barrington
makes 10-12 tortillas
1-1/2 cups masa harina
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 – 1-1/2 cups warm water
In a medium bowl, whisk together the masa harina and salt. Add 1 cup of warm water and mix with your hands. The dough should be moist and smooth and should stick together easily when pressed, but not be too wet. Add more water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Form the dough into 12 equal balls, about 1 ounce each. Lay them on a plate and cover with a damp towel.
Get your tortilla press ready by laying a sheet of plastic on the base (use a produce bag or resealable bag cut into one large sheet). Your plastic should be wide enough so that it can be folded over to cover the top of your tortilla.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pick up one ball of dough and press it between your palms to flatten it slightly. Place it in the tortilla press between the plastic. Press the tortilla firmly, but not as far as the press will go (you will need to experiment with the press for the proper thickness. The tortilla should be about 6 inches in diameter.
Gently peel the tortilla off the plastic and lay in carefully in the hot pan. Cook it for 45 second to 1 minute, then flip it over with a spatula. It should have small brown spots and look dry, but not cracked. Cook the second side for 30-45 seconds. Flip again and lightly tap the surface of the tortilla 4 or 5 times with your fingertips. Cook for 15 seconds more. Turn again and tap the other side, cooking for another 15 seconds. The tortilla should smell like toasty corn and have a dull surface.
Nestle each tortilla in a clean towel lined basket to keep warm. Use immediately or let them cool, wrap well, and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for 2 months.