Monday, May 16, 2011

Flour tortillas

by Steph

For a long time, I have been trying to find the right flour tortilla recipe. The first one I tried, the tortillas were exactly like pita bread. Good, if you wanted pita bread. But bad if you were hoping for real live Mexican flour tortillas.

Turns out the secret ingredient will make you want to hurl.

Lard.

As in pure fat.

As in pure, unadulterated, good old, bacon grease, makes-your-love-handles-jiggle-just-thinking-about-it fat.

Yes, lard is the key ingredient to making good tortillas. Here's the thing, the more lard you add, the more "restaurant" type of tortilla you get. Kind of makes me queasy to think about how much lard they're putting in my tortillas at the restaurant because I add quite a bit and they're still not as "see through" as the restaurant ones. But still super yummy.

Here's the recipe:
  • 2-½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cups lard (I've heard you can substitute shortening if lard makes you squirm) {Also, the OG recipe added 2 more tablespoons of lard but seriously, this amount is plenty unless you're completely unaware of what lard is and what it does to your body...}
  • 1 cup hot water
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the lard and smoosh it with your fingers until the flour mixture looks mealy. (No, "smoosh" was not in the original recipe instructions but that's the best way I can describe it.) I mean really smoosh it. There should be no lard chunks left.

Add the cup of hot water and mix it all together. Then pray for your love handles.

Let the dough sit for awhile. Some recipes say 20 minutes, other's say an hour. This particular one said to let it sit for 30 minutes and then separate into small golfball sized balls and then let it sit for another 20 minutes.

Here's the thing - I've done it different every time. Sometimes we have time, and I let the dough rest. Sometimes I'm stinking hungry and don't have the patience. Sometimes I'm lazy and don't want to separate the dough into balls so we end up with a really, really big tortilla at the end which actually makes my husband pretty happy.

The thing is, I haven't noticed any difference. As far as taste goes, my super uncultured tastebuds are pretty happy with the end result.

If after awhile, you come back to the dough and it's insanely sweating grease, it's ok - don't panic. It's just the lard that will soon be attached to your butt. Or your thighs. Or your belly. Then think about that and panic.

Oh, and here's the other key ingredient: have your husband roll out the tortillas. If you don't have a husband, have your roommate do it. If you don't have a roommate, then, you're out of luck.

See that picture above? See how nice and flat and round the tortilla is? That's because I didn't do it. My tortillas turn out more like squares with one really long corner. And they're thick. Not that they don't taste good thick, but still. Not really helpful when making burritos.

Evidently my husband has mastered the tortilla rolling and there's some technique but I don't know (or care) what it is because they all taste the same to me.

Now, when you're rolling out the tortillas, don't despair if you end up with some that look like the pink creature from Sponge Bob. Or something that looks like the Blob. Or something that looks like a 5 year old did it.

No one will care.

Also, don't use a ton of flour when rolling them out. Because the dough is already so greasy, it absorbs a lot of flour so just try to cover the board so it doesn't stick and cover your rolling pin. Roll them out very thin because they shrink when you put them on the griddle.

Now, in a perfect world, I'd have a cast iron skillet like the one my mom has and I'd cook the tortillas on that. But I don't. I only have a regular skillet...waahhh..

Throw the tortillas on a heated skillet and let one side cook until its golden and starts forming bubbles. Then flip it over and let the other side get golden. Then stuff it in your face. Then tell your husband (and/or roommate) that one was no good so you had to trash it and to get back to rolling.

Repeat process.

Homemade tortillas taste the best. And if you find that they're too "bread-y" for your taste, add more lard. Seriously, if you doubled the lard in this recipe, they'll look exactly like the ones you get at Mexican restaurants. Scary, huh?

But if you follow the recipe above, they still taste pretty delish. And the love handles will thank you.