Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Learning to love flour tortillas as much as I love corn

Last night I decided to make a kind of huevos rancheros thing for us: tortillas topped with egg, salsa, and cheese. I had all the stuff to make it except tomatillos, which Scott picked up for me at Randall's (overpriced grocery store where they keep potatoes in the refrigerated section, which is just so wrong). If you are not familiar with tomatillos, they are like smallish green tomatoes. They are a lot firmer than tomatoes and less juicy, and have a kind of papery husk over them. They taste like a cross between a tomato and a crabapple. If you have ever had salsa verde/any kind of green salsa, you have had them.

First thing, make tortillas. I found what appeared to be a really easy recipe here, courtesy of a blogger called "Homesick Texan." This recipe is for flour tortillas, even though I LOVE and could eat by the truckload, corn tortillas. I never knew how great they were till I moved to Austin. I never knew what a pain in the ass they were to make until I went to the fabulous La Villa Bonita cooking school in Mexico. There is absolutely no way I will ever make corn tortillas at home--you have to get the right kind of dried corn, soak it with a chunk of lime (the rock), cook them on low heat for hours, and then either pound them by hand in a molcajete/mortar and pestle, or, as most people do nowadays, take your bucket of corn to the town mill (usually there is more than one) where (when I did it) two ladies pour the corn into a huge piece of machinery that grinds it into dough. One of them pours, the other one catches. Then you take the dough home and make the tortillas, which is another paragraph's worth of explanation. Not happening.

But these flour tortillas looked good too. When I told my friend Clare I wanted to make tortillas she said "Oh my sister made them recently and they were great, let me email you her recipe." And it was the same recipe from the same blog I was already planning to use. Encouraging!

The dough: Flour, baking powder, tiny bit of oil, salt, warm milk. Kneaded it for two minutes, let it sit for 20. Divided it into eight balls, let them sit for ten minutes under a damp dishtowel. Here they are, looking cute next to my tomatillo sauce.

Then you roll out each one to tortilla thinness. The first one I made was thicker and I used it for another purpose (which will be revealed in another posting), but here is about how thin I rolled the rest. You can kind of see my rolling pin in the corner. I HIGHLY recommend this kind of rolling pin--it's basically just a thin wooden dowel, as opposed to the thick kind of rolling pin with the detached swiveling handles. I find I can better feel what I'm doing with this much simpler tool.

When rolled, the tortilla goes on a hot unoiled skillet for about 20 seconds, then is flipped, and maybe flipped again depending on how it looks. Here it is bubbling up before its flip.

And that's it. I found that I needed to periodically brush off the skillet, as stray flour got left behind and started burning. It would probably be smart to brush/wipe your tortilla of any lingering flour before putting it on the pan

Pictures of the finished tortilla later with finished dinner...They were absolutely perfect, tender and "toothsome" as we annoying food writers say--just like the recipe claims they will be, and so easy to make. Today I made Scott's sandwich on them (wraps).

Next up: cheese.

1 comment:

  1. I am really unhappy to read that making corn tortillas is so hard. I hate hard.