9/27/10

8 Fresh Corn Tortillas 101

Finally!  I have figured out how to make the perfect corn tortilla!  Light and soft, it's a great compliment to your favorite taco, tostada, enchilada or tacquitos ~

My hubby is not a corn tortilla fan.  He prefers flour.  So do I, until I discovered fresh corn tortillas.  Now we both love them!

These are a healthy, fat free, low sodium alternative and once you taste them, you will never go back to store bought corn tortillas. The store bought ones are filled with preservatives to increase their shelf life as fresh corn tortillas go stale very quickly.
How can something so good with only three ingredients be so complicated to make?

Just like learning how to make whole wheat bread, it's all in the technique and getting the feel of the dough.  My very first corn tortillas were miniature frisbees...

Let me show you what I've learned...

First, you can't just grind your own popcorn into flour and make these.  A particular kind of corn kernel (field corn)  is soaked, treated with lime (not lime juice) and ground into flour.

This is what I used.  Maseca: Instant Corn Masa Flour.

I also use this for my pork tamales.


A four and a half pound bag is just a little over $2 at Walmart or Winco.

Run to your nearest store and buy it today...

If you're not going to use it right away, store it in your freezer.



Don't buy the Maseca in the brown bag to use for tortillas.


It's more coarse and is perfect for tamales, if you prefer a little texture to your tamales.



Though this is very easily mixed by hand, I decided to use my food processor.  If I can mix pie dough in the processor, why not tortilla dough?

Put in 2 cups of Maseca,



1/4 t. salt,


turn on the food processor,




and gradually pour up to 1 1/2 c. hot tap water


Some days, you may need more or less water.  
Just like making bread.



until it comes to a ball, like this.








To test the consistency,  grab a chunk of dough and lightly squeeze it.

It should form a nice clump without leaving a mess in your hands.

If it crumbles, it's too dry ~ add more water

If it sticks to your hands, it's too wet ~ add more masa


This is perfect.

Form your dough into a nice ball.  Notice how the dough feels.  Smooth.  Silky.  Wet, but not sticky.

If you get a flashback to your play dough days....resist the urge to roll the dough into a snake ~

Put it into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.



Let this sit, covered for at least 30 minutes...or up to an hour.
This will allow the corn to absorb the rest of the moisture, resulting in a light, tender tortilla.


Use a tortilla press and a freezer Ziploc bag.  Cut the sides and bottom of the bag and place it on the press.

Parchment paper also works well.

Plastic wrap and wax paper don't work; they are too fragile and fall apart.


Don't have a tortilla press?

Look at one of your plates.  If it has a rim on the bottom, you can use it!  This rim is approximately 5 inches in diameter.

Make sure to still use a freezer baggie or parchment paper...




Get two non-stick skillets.  Put one skillet on med-low and the other on med-high.  When a drop of water is placed on the hot skillet and sizzles, it is ready.

Even better...use e a griddle that covers two burners!

Roll a golf ball size (1.5oz) piece of dough between your hands.

Keep rest of dough covered to keep from drying out.

Place it slightly off-center, toward the hinges, onto the plastic.




Place the other piece of plastic on top,








fold the hinged lid over,








and firmly bring the lever down.

Don't put your whole weight into it...






Open the hinge and rotate the entire plastic wrapped dough 180º.

Fold over the hinge and bring the lever down just a little bit more...

this will help you get a more uniform circle.

Check the edges of your circle.  They should be smoooooth, not cracked or ragged.

Take the top plastic off.

Transfer the raw dough circle by putting your hand over the dough and turning it over.

Slowly and carefully peel the plastic off.

If the dough sticks to the plastic, it is too wet or pressed too thin.


Hold flattened dough at a 45º angle over the med-low griddle.

Move your hand quickly away from your body, letting the hanging part of the tortilla hit the pan, then roll your hand out from underneath, letting it fall flat and smooth.




After 15-20 seconds, the tortilla's edges will feel dry enough to pick it up and flip it over to the med-high griddle.


To reduce the risk of burnt fingertips, use a spatula.

Your fingers will thank you.


The high heat from the second griddle will cause your tortilla to puff up, which is exactly what you want!

Happy dance......happy dance!

Feel free to smoosh the bubble flat with the spatula...

Won't hurt the tortilla a bit ~

After 30-40 seconds, the tortilla is cooked and ready to be covered with a clean, heavy kitchen towel.


Why?



Initially the tortillas will feel dry and crisp, but after spending some time with their other tortilla buddies under a heavy kitchen towel, they begin to relax and soften ~


No more miniature frisbees!


There you have it....a soft, tender, white corn tortilla that is ready for your favorite fillings.



What do you like on your tortilla?




Fresh Corn Tortillas
(4x6 recipe download)   (full page printable recipe)
Special thanks to Alton Brown, Rick Bayless, and countless bloggers who have made successful corn tortillas and have encouraged me to make my own ~















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