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Dharma Kitchen

writer-editor-cook-baker

Easy Homemade Corn Tortillas from Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex

Carrie H

The Dharma Kitchen's a stop on the virtual blog book tour of a new book called Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex, by Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn, restaurateurs in San Antonio, Texas. The cookbook was published in October from Trinity University Press. 

I don't know about you, but I cannot find a corn tortilla in the supermarket or even a Mexican grocer that isn't loaded with funky ingredients I don't want in my body and/or doesn't stay soft. These things typically dry out in a hurry, even if you warm them up with a little bit of oil to make them pliable. So when I saw this recipe for Easy Homemade Corn Tortillas, with a minimal number of ingredients and an intriguing process, it was a no-brainer. You'll love it. Maybe even enough to buy the book. It contains recipes for enchiladas filled with all manner of deliciousness, including lobster in Enchiladas de Langosta. 

Enchiladas de Langosta .Reprinted from Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex Copyright © 2015 by Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn. Published by Trinity University Press.

Enchiladas de Langosta .Reprinted from Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex Copyright © 2015 by Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn. Published by Trinity University Press.

In light of the fact that many folks are off this week and may want to do some puttering in the kitchen, or serve a Mexican-themed feast on New Year's Eve, I've decided to share the recipe and its accompanying video. 

Homemade Corn Tortillas

White Wings Corn Tortilla mix (Harina para Preparada Tortillas de Maíz), which is manufactured by C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc. at Pioneer Mills in San Antonio, is our preferred brand of dried masa to use for making tortillas. Maseca Instant Corn Masa is also good and is widely available at many Mexican specialty stores and supermarkets nationwide. (If buying Maseca, be sure to buy the package that is labeled “Masa Instantánea de Maíz,” which means “instant corn masa flour,” not “para hacer tamales,” which is intended for use in making tamales.) If buying another brand of dried masa, make sure the label reads “de maíz,” which means corn.

Fresh masa is corn that has been nixtamalized and ground while still moist. It is packaged in plastic bags and sold by weight.

How to Make Tortillas Using Dried Masa

Reprinted from Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex Copyright © 2015 by Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn. Published by Trinity University Press.

Yields 16 tortillas

Equipment

  • Tortilla press
  • Comal or iron griddle

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (280 grams) Pioneer White Wings Corn Tortilla mix or Maseca Instant
  • Corn Masa
  • Kosher salt to taste (optional)

Directions

*Cut rounds from plastic to fit the tortilla press. (This is a great way to reuse a

plastic grocery bag.)

* Heat a well-seasoned comal or iron griddle over medium-high heat. If possible,

set the comal at two temperatures: 325°F (163°C) and 375°F (191°C). The cooler

side is for the first two turns of the tortilla. For the last turn of the tortilla, move

it to the 375°F (191°C) side. This helps encourage puffing. Some chefs lay a tortilla

directly on a burner flame for the last turn.

*Place the dried masa in a large bowl and slowly add 1 1⁄3 cups (316 ml) warm

water while stirring. Knead dough until it comes together. Add a little more water,

1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time, or sprinkle on a little additional dried masa as

needed to form a smooth, soft, moist dough (amount will vary depending on

humidity and dryness of masa). Season with (optional) salt to taste. Let the dough

rest for at least 30 minutes (to fully hydrate the dough), or refrigerate for several

hours or overnight. If it has been refrigerated, allow the dough to sit at room

temperature for about 1 hour before proceeding.

*Divide dough into 16 balls (see note) and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel

to prevent the dough from drying out (this is very important).

*Place a round of plastic on the tortilla press, and place a ball of masa on top of

the plastic just slightly off center toward the hinge (this helps maintain an even

thickness).

*Place a second piece of plastic over the ball of masa, flatten it slightly by hand,

then close the lid and press.

*Some chefs like to turn the package 180 degrees and gently press again.

*With the tortilla still pressed between the plastic sheets, place in one hand and

use other to peel off the top sheet of plastic. (Plastic sheets may be reused to make

remaining tortillas.)

*Transfer the exposed side of tortilla to the opposite hand. Fingers should be close

together and the tortilla should be placed on the fingertips, not the palm. Peel off

the remaining sheet of plastic.

*Keeping palm up and nearly flat, gently lay the tortilla on the cooler side of the

comal or iron griddle. Try to prevent the tortilla from folding over on itself when

placing it on the comal. Cook for about 30 seconds, or until edges begin to firm.

*Using a thin spatula, turn tortilla. Cook for about 1 minute more; the

underside should begin to develop little blisters and slight freckles of brown.

*Turn the tortilla over onto the hotter side of the comal, and after a few seconds,

if the dough was the right consistency and the comal set to the right heat, the

tortilla should puff up (if it doesn’t, it is still perfectly usable). Continue cooking

until the underside has some brown spots and the tortilla is cooked through.

*Place in a cloth-lined basket and keep covered while pressing and cooking the

remaining tortillas.

Notes:

It is a good idea to do a test with the first tortilla before dividing dough into balls. The tortilla should be of even thickness—not so thin that it will tear apart when removed from the plastic, and not so thick that it will be difficult to fold or roll after it is cooked. The edge should be smooth, not crumbly. If it is crumbly, work a little more water into the dough.

The dough should leave a little residue when pressed against the palm. Resist the temptation to wash off the thin film of dried masa that builds up on palms while transferring the tortillas to the comal. It actually helps keep the tortillas from sticking to hands.

 

How to Make Tortillas Using Fresh Masa

Reprinted from Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex Copyright © 2015 by Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn. Published by Trinity University Press

Yields 16 tortillas

Masa is a dough made from freshly ground nixtamalized corn (hominy).

Equipment

  • Tortilla press
  • Comal or iron griddle

Ingredients

  • 1 1⁄3 pounds (600 grams) fresh white corn masa
  • Kosher salt to taste (optional)

Directions

*Place the masa in a bowl and knead until it is smooth and soft; if it crumbles

or breaks into pieces, add warm water, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time, while

kneading until the dough is the consistency of Play-Doh. It should be very soft

and the edges of the dough should look smooth when pressed. Season with

(optional) salt to taste.

* Form and cook the tortillas following the instructions for pressing tortillas using

dried masa.

Notes:

Fresh masa turns sour after a day or two in the refrigerator. To extend the shelf life, masa can be divided into recipe-sized portions and frozen.

The dough should be as hydrated, soft, and pliable as possible without falling apart or sticking to hands. If it crumbles, it is too dry—add a little more water.