While I can testify to the culinary skills of my grandmother and aunts on my Mexican side, I was never really allowed in the kitchen as a kid to pry into the how. My cousins and I were often ushered outside to play out of ear shot from the adults who were always deep in conversation about this or that. Most of the time, we were happy to just get a warm tortilla or slice of sweet pan between games of tag, or whatever other weird games we came up with; which invariably ended in some kind of injury requiring stitches,–I’ve got the scars to prove it.
Anyway, I’ve always felt simultaneously at home and totally lost in the Hispanic section of the grocery store. The candies and breads were always familiar items, but the staple goods and dry products were over my head.
This week I finally braved the flour/dried goods section of the ‘Mexican aisle’ at Saar’s Market and committed to making tortillas by hand. But guess, what? Making these tortillas is so much easier than any restauranteur or Hispanic wants you to believe.
Here’s how to cheat at homemade tortillas:
1. Buy yourself some pre-mixed tortilla flour – I used Juanita’s Brand Masa- Mix.
2. Follow the instructions on the side label (most just call for adding water, seriously).
3. When the mixture is the consistency of play-dough, portion it out into golf ball size balls.
4. If you don’t have a tortilla press, use wax paper and a large book to flatten the dough into tortillas.
5. Using the oven, heat up your cast iron to 400º F then transfer over to the stove top. Keep heat at medium to medium-high.
6. Cook your tortillas for a minute on each side. When they puff up, they’re done.
Store in a tortilla warmer, which you can buy for a whopping $1 on the same aisle you got the flour, or wrapped in a paper towel wrapped in foil. You can freeze these and use for later, or serve fresh with dinner. We’re making quinoa avocado tacos for dinner tonight. Can’t wait!
So there you have it, there is truly no science to tortillas. Hispanics have been making it sound difficult for ages because of only one thing: the language barrier. Probably.