Authentic Homemade Corn Tortillas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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Ok – again – this is not really a recipe. It is inspiration for you to try something that you might not have ever even considered.  Corn tortillas!  I have posted spinach tortillas & kale tortillas in the past.  Those were both flour tortillas – and they have their place.  But I really love corn tortillas, too, and I love tacos – so – I thought I’d give it a go!

There is no real recipe.  You simply go buy some masa harina.  It is ground hominy – or a product of corn & lime.  It is ground very fine.  You then make the dough according to the measurements on the bag.  Mine suggested 2 cups flour to 1 1/3 cups water.  Period.  The dough comes together in a bowl instantly.  You are, I discovered, meant to let the dough rest for 30 minutes or more before working with it but I was impatient.

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I happen to have invested about $10 in a tortilla press.  Totally unnecessary!  Not because it isn’t easy to use – it is.  But – because just getting a glass pie dish out or the bottom of a large pan – anything with a large, flat surface that can be used to apply pressure will work.  The dough is very soft & flattens far more easily than a flour dough would.  It also tears for more easily – so do not beat yourself up if it takes a bit to get the hang of these.  Know that these tortillas have a softer, breadier texture than the more coarse & grainy store-bought ones.

Definitely put either wax or parchment paper on either side of your dough – or use plastic wrap.  Others SWEAR by cutting a ziplock freezer bag in two & using two sheets of that.  Apparently – it is the least sticky option.  If your dough is REALLY sticky – try adding more masa.

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So – basically – you make little balls somewhere between the size of a golf ball & a pool ball.  Press it flat in between two pieces of some sort of wrap.  Then, peel it off one side, flip the bare side onto your palm & carefully peel off the other side.  I tore a lot of them & just balled them up & pressed them again.Heat a dry pan to very high heat then reduce it just a bit so the pan doesn’t smoke.  Carefully flop the tortilla into the pan.  Do not try to flip it until it moves around on the pan when you push it.  If it sticks still – let it cook more.  Once it slips around easily – flip it.  This should take between 30-60 seconds.  Do the same on the other side.  Then store in a tortilla warmer or wrap them in a kitchen towel until you are ready to eat them up.

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Reheating?  From Epicurious:

There are several methods for reheating corn tortillas: dry heat (gas flame), moist heat (steamer and microwave) and oily heat (dry-frying).

Dry heat:
This method works only if your tortillas have been made that day. Heat the tortillas directly over the flame (or on a griddle or skillet), flipping them until toasty and pliable.

Moist heat of a steamer:
This is easier for larger quantities of corn tortillas, especially if you need to hold them hot for a little while. Pour 1/2 inch water into the bottom of the steamer, then line the steaming basket with a clean, heavy kitchen towel. Lay the tortillas in the basket in stacks of 12 (a small vegetable steamer will accommodate only one stack; a large Asian steamer will hold three or four stacks). Fold the edges of the towel over the tortillas to cover them, set the lid in place, bring the water to a boil and let boil only for 1 minute, then turn off the fire and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. If you wish to keep the tortillas hot for up to an hour, slip the steamer into a low oven or reheat the water periodically.

Moist heat of a microwave:
This easy method works best with no more than a dozen tortillas. Drizzle a clean kitchen towel with 3 tablespoons water and wring the towel to even distribute the moisture. Use the towel to line a microwave-safe casserole dish (8 or 9 inches in diameter is best). Lay in a dozen tortillas, cover with the towel and the lid, then microwave at 50 percent power for 4 minutes. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. The tortillas will stay warm for 20 minutes.

Oily heat:
Though it’s not much a part of home cooking, street vendors of seared-meat tacos reheat fresh tortillas with the heat of a slightly oily griddle — they’re not so much frying the tortillas (which would mean completely submerging the tortillas in oil) as griddle-heating them with a tiny bit of oil.

When just-baked tortillas come off the griddle or when they’ve been reheated, they’re traditionally kept warm in a tightly woven basket (chiquihuite) lined with a cloth; some have lids, others don’t. In the Yucatan, they use hollowed-out gourds. And in modern households, they use Styrofoam containers — which are so efficient that they now come in many decorated styles. If you’re having a party, hold hot tortillas in an insulated chest (like an ice chest) lined with a towel.

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One thought on “Authentic Homemade Corn Tortillas

  1. Pingback: Road Kill Roasted Cauliflower & Hominy Tacos with Homemade Corn Tortillas & Spicy Peach, Pineapple & Mango Salsa | Delightful-Delicious-Delovely

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