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Corn Tortillas

INGREDIENTS

2 cups (500 grams) masa (see recipe below or buy fresh masa at your local tortilleria)

METHOD

Start by kneading the masa to ensure that it’s at room temperature. Roll into small balls about ⅛ of a cup (16 grams) each. Cover the balls with a moist paper towel.

Preheat a comal or cast-iron skillet to medium high.

Place plastic wrap or wax paper on each side of a tortilla press and put the masa ball in the middle. Gently close the press, then open. Move the pressed masa 180 degrees and press again. (This will help make the tortilla even.)

Place the tortilla on the comal. Once you see small bubbles, flip it. Flip it again once the other side is cooked. Then one last flip. This is when the tortilla will puff.

Put the cooked tortilla in a tortilla warmer (or in a clean dish towel) and continue making tortillas until all the masa balls are pressed and cooked.

TIPS
Add a little warm water if the masa is too dry.
If the masa is too wet, spread it on a plate and let it dry out in the fridge for several hours.

Much is said about the “puff”—when the tortilla puffs into a ball with the steam trapped inside. This is desired, because you ensure the middle of the tortilla is fully cooked. Also, it leaves a little skin that’s often referred to as the pancita (stomach) of the tortilla. This side is where the filling should be placed as it will soak up any liquid or salsa.

I’m not a purist, so if your heart desires flavored tortillas, you should go for it. The key is to ensure that whatever you add doesn’t make the masa too wet. Our favorites are adding chipotle paste, chives, beets, and squid ink. Have fun with it!

FOR REHEATING TORTILLAS
Get your comal very hot. When you put a drop of water on it, it should immediately sizzle.

Place a tortilla on the comal and flip every 5 seconds until it’s warm and soft. Reheating should only take 10 to 15 seconds. If you heat a corn tortilla low and slow, it will get hard.

Other methods include spraying the tortilla lightly with water, and many taqueros brush tortillas with oil or clarified butter. The key is that it should be high heat and fast.

To keep tortillas warm, place in a cloth or tortilla warmer. You can also wrap 3 tortillas in foil to keep them extra warm. This works especially well when you’re serving a crowd.

Homemade Masa

INGREDIENTS

4 cups of nixtamal corn (see recipe below)
 
Water

METHOD

Place the nixtamal corn through a corn grinder and add a teaspoon of water as you grind. Water should be added in drops, otherwise your masa will be too wet, which you want to avoid. Use the masa immediately or store in an airtight container. The masa will last 10 days in the fridge. Just bring it to room temperature when you use it again.

TIPS
If the masa is too wet, you can rescue it by setting it on a plate in the fridge all day until it dries out. Another option is to have good quality masa harina and add a bit of this to dry out your masa.

Fine ground is best for tortillas, sopes, tlayudas, and chochoyotes. Coarse ground is what we call masa quebrada (broken masa) and this is best for tamales.

Masa can be stored in the fridge for up to 10 days. Before using, make sure it’s room temperature. You may need to add drops of warm water to get the moisture level back to where it needs to be.

Masa can also be frozen. Just thaw it in the fridge a day before you want to use it, then bring to room temperature. Add drops of water as needed to rehydrate.

Homemade Nixtamal

INGREDIENTS

2 cups (400 grams) quality dent or flint dry corn (I prefer non-GMO and organic varieties)
 
1 teaspoon (4 grams) food grade lime (Also called calcium hydroxide, cal, slake lime, or cal lime. You can find it online or at Mexican grocery stores.)
 
Filtered or tap water

METHOD

Sort and rinse the corn. Place in a non-reactive pot along with 4 cups of water, about 1 inch above the corn. Add food grade lime and heat over low-medium heat. Stir the corn until it reaches 210 degrees Fahrenheit, then turn off the heat. Let the corn steep for 6 to 12 hours. Drain the corn and give it a good rinse to remove the pericarp, or outer shell, of the corn. At this state, the pericarp will look gelatinous. Now, you have nixtamalized corn that you can grind for masa. Or you can bring it to a boil, then simmer, to make hominy for pozole.

Flour Tortillas

INGREDIENTS

Makes ~12 six-inch tortillas
 
4 cups (480 grams) flour
 
1 teaspoon (6 grams) sea salt
 
½ cup (65 grams) of preferred fat, such as pork fat, vegetable shortening, or avocado oil
 
¾ cup (171 grams) hot water

METHOD

In a bowl, sift the flour and sea salt. Add the fat and mix by hand until incorporated. Slowly add the hot water while you continue to mix. The dough should become stretchy like pizza dough. Keep kneading for 8 minutes. Divide dough into 12 pieces and roll into balls. Place balls on a floured sheet pan, lightly cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for 30 minutes.

On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to flatten each ball into a disc. Keep rotating the tortilla until you have a round shape. You can stack uncooked tortillas by putting a piece of waxed paper in between.

To cook, heat a comal or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla on the comal and cook until you see tiny bubbles (about 20 seconds). Flip and cook for 15 seconds. Flip again until you see a large bubble or the tortilla is fully inflated. Transfer the tortilla to a warmer or clean dish towel. Repeat this with the remaining tortillas until all are cooked.

Reprinted by permission of ‎Marissa Gencarelli

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