I stopped making fresh tortillas a few years ago when I lost my tortilla press in my divorce. The other day I got a new tortilla press, and I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. For a mere $15.95 I could have had fresh, fat free, low calorie tortillas anytime I wanted them, a cost that I would have recouped after the first few batches I made vs. buying Mi Abuelita Bonita tortillas at Whole Foods. Don’t get me wrong, Mi Abuelita Bonita tortillas are a great product that I have written about before, and they in no way resemble the the crap on the end of the supermarket isle. That said, nothing beats a freshly cooked homemade tortilla.
These are surprisingly easy to make once you know a couple of key points. The first is allowing the dough to sit for at least 30 minutes prior to making the tortillas allows the masa to absorb the liquid and will give your tortillas a better texture that is more pilable and less crumbly. The second is using parchment paper in the tortilla press. There are tons of recipes out there for tortillas that recommend wrapping the press in plastic wrap, or using pieces of garbage bags, or putting a freezer bag around each of the flat surfaces. I have found that using plastic is really cumbersome. It doesn’t want to hold to the press, and it’s really hard to get the pressed tortillas off it. Parchment paper works great though. You may need two or three pieces to make a batch of tortillas though, because once the paper has absorbed a certain amount of moisture, it becomes a little more difficult to work with.
Summer is almost here, and summer is taco season. Pair these with homemade “refried” black beans, mango salsa, and cliantro lime crema and you have a world-class taco. Or “refried” black beans, shredded pepper jack cheese and pico de gallo. Or use them for shrimp or fish tacos.
- 2 cups masa harina*
- one large pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cup warm water or 1/2 cup vegetable broth and 1 cup warm water
- Place masa harina in a bowl and mix in salt
- Add 1 1/4 cups water to masa and mix until well combined.
- Check the consistency of the dough, you are looking for grainy version of play-dough.
- Add additional water as necessary to create a grainy play-dough texture. (For me, 1 1/2 cups of liquid is perfect.
- Cover mixture and allow it to sit on the countertop for at least 30 minutes prior to forming tortillas.
- When you are ready to cook the tortillas, begin heating a cast iron pan on medium heat.
- Roll the masa mixture into a log and cut mixture into 4 equal pieces.
- Cut each of the 4 pieces into 3 equal pieces, and form each piece into a ball.
- Open your tortilla press and place a piece of parchment across the two flat surfaces of the press. Make a fold in the center of the parchment where the hinge of the press is.
- Place a ball of masa on the press, and close and latch the press.
- Open the press and carefully peel the pressed masa round off of the parchment paper and place it in the heated pan. Cook for 30 seconds, then turn tortilla over and cook for another 30 seconds. if tortilla doesn't have any brown-black spots, cook for another 10-30 seconds to create some light browning/ blackening. You may notice the tortilla puffing up as it cooks. This is normal. The tortilla will deflate when it's removed from the heat.
- Remove tortilla from the pan and place it on a plate.
- Continue with remaining masa balls, creating a stack of tortillas.
- Serve immediately, or cover plate with plastic wrap and reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes until tortillas are heated through.
- Unused tortillas can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. Just reheat in the microwave prior to eating.