- Food and Cooking
How to Make Mexican Corn and Flour Tortillas
Tortillas - Cook 'Em Up & Serve 'Em Fresh
Corn and flour tortillas are incredibly easy to make. Once you've had homemade, you'll feel like you've entered a new food galaxy. Don't get me wrong - I use the store-bought brands and most of them are quite good. But when I have a few minutes and really want to impress myself (and our guests), then it's time to get out the comal, which is really just a cast iron griddle.
In fact, both corn and flour tortillas take only a few seconds from mixing the simple ingredients to serving. There are a ton of things you can do with them, too - from enchiladas and taquitos to loaded burritos
So, let's fire things up and whip out a batch! You can't mess 'em up, I promise.
Corn Tortillas Recipe
From the Aztecs to Your Table
Is there anyone here who doesn't want to dive into a big bowl of tortilla chips - right this minute? Those little darlings had to start somewhere - with a corn base, of course. Masa harina is the corn flour used (more about that below) and not to be confused with cornmeal.
Corn tortillas originated in the southern regions of Mexico. The soil is poor, but that's where the corn fields thrive. In ancient times, the Mayans and Aztecs worshipped corn, before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, of course.
2 cups masa harina
Dash of salt (that's a pinch or so)
1 cup warm water (more or less)
This will make about twelve 6-inch corn tortillas.
-Combine the masa harina and salt in a bowl. Slowly add just enough water to form a dough. If it's too crumbly, just add more water. Too gooey, add more masa harina.
-Knead in the bowl for about 3 minutes as it firms up.
-Cover and let rest for about one hour.
-Separate and round out dough to about the size of golf balls (adjust for size as desired).
-Place between two pieces of plastic wrap.
-Roll out by hand or place in a tortilla press.
Heat up the griddle (ungreased and use med-high). Remove the tortilla from the wrap and add. Let it start to brown up on one side before turning (about 60 seconds). Flip and cook. Stack the tortillas in a clean dish towel until the batch is ready to serve.
That's all there is to it!
Try a good old cast iron griddle and you can't go wrong. Here's what I use.
The Essential Cast Iron Griddle - Corn and flour tortillas just won't be the same without a griddle!
The Lodge cast iron griddle is a must-have for tortillas and flatbreads. Its heating properties mean you'll have perfect browning and a great taste. This one's already seasoned - great!
Oh, Yes - The Press
Not an essential, but fun for corn tortillas!
A word about tortilla presses. The manual models are inexpensive; you'll find them in cast iron, which needs seasoning and in cast aluminum that's also good. At Mexican markets (mercados), you'll also find really, really shiny models that are about $6.
That's the kind I use, but they do tend to flake and eventually, the handle will probably break. That's one of the reasons to always press tortillas between two sheets of plastic or wax paper. (The other reason is then you don't have to clean the press!)
Tortilla Presses - This will impress your friends and family, for sure.
These are quick to use, although you may get some unevenness when pressing.
Quick Guide to Masa Harina
If you're going to make corn tortillas, you have to have the dough
The term "masa" means dough in Spanish. After the kernels soak in lime, they're dried and ground. We don't have to mess with that, thank goodness, because masa harina is commonly sold in the ethnic sections at groceries and easy to find on-line, too!
Masa harina is also used for tamales and a host of other Mexican and Tex-Mex faves. The dough will keep in the fridge overnight and can be frozen if you want to keep some handy.
Masa Harina at Amazon
Flour Tortillas Recipe
Melt in Your Mouth Mexican Bread
Flour Tortillas are the "bread" of Mexico, but they haven't been around as long as the corn version. Wheat is only grown in northern Mexico, originating in Sonora, so it's only natural that this staple has easily crossed the border - aren't we lucky?
Skilled Mexican cooks pop these out by hand, but a rolling pin is easier for most of us. You might run across a palote, too. It's a thick dowel used for flattening the dough and makes the whole process officially "Mexican."
One last thing - a press is not used for flour tortillas - just corn. Place the dough ball on a floured board and work it, baby, work it.
Flour Tortilla Recipe
Makes about 12-16 eight-inch tortillas
3 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for flouring the board)
1/3 cup shortening (or vegetable oil with extra for coating)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 - 1 cup warm water
Combine flour and salt. Add vegetable oil and mix lightly. Begin adding the warm (not hot) water and knead until you have a soft dough. Divide into equal pieces of 12-16 balls. Give the balls a light coating of additional vegetable oil. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Roll out each ball on a floured surface. Use wax paper or plastic wrap in between each tortilla and stack for cooking. Preheat an ungreased griddle. Add tortilla and cook until it begins to puff with a few browning spots on the bottom. Flip and press down to release the air pockets. Cook for about 1 minute. Remove and serve.
Keep tortillas warm by wrapping in cloth. Can also be kept warm in the oven, reheated in the microwave or use a tortilla warming basket.
Flour Tortillas-Make 'Em Good
Here's how your tortillas will look
1. After you've made the dough, make balls (a little larger than golf balls).
A rolling pin makes everything easy, unless you've already mastered the hand flipping method (good for you-2 points there!)
Put one on an ungreased iron griddle.
Let it start to develop brown spots on one side and then turn.
Now it'll start to puff; just press down with a spatula to flatten. Remove and add another.
Pile them up and keep them warm in a clean dry dishtowel or serve as you go. Yum!
How to make Corn Tortillas at Home
Watch "Mom" whip out a batch of corn tortillas!
Keeping Tortillas Warm
It's easy to keep tortillas warm the traditional way
While you're cooking a lineup of tortillas, those coming off first are getting cold! How do you retain their just-off-the-burner warmth while keeping them moist and fresh?
You can certainly use plastic or Styrofoam. They work fine, although not the "greenest" choice. The Styrofoam versions can potentially add a little sogginess.
A natural basket is the traditional way. It can be open, but must have a tight weave. It's called a chiquihuite. Use a thick dishtowel that's large enough to drape inside the basket and completely cover a tortilla stack. A very authentic and decorative way to serve at the table.
Reheating Tortilla Tricks
When your tortillas go cold, reheating can be a bit tricky. You don't want them to turn rubbery or too dry - a hazard for any food. Here are a few ways to get them toasty warm and flexible without sacrificing texture.
The fastest and easiest way:
Simply wrap a stack in foil, place in a preheated 325 degree oven, and warm for 15 minutes.
Steaming Methods (most effective)
Reheating 1-4 fresh tortillas at a time:
Sprinkle with water and place as a stack (or singly) on a hot grill. Turn and rotate the layers in the stack frequently.
Steaming up to 12 tortillas:
Place a stack of up to twelve in a clean dishtowel and then in a steamer basket. Bring a pot on the stove to a rolling boil and place steamer basket inside. Make sure the towel is not in contact with the water. Cover and steam for 90 seconds. Remove from heat, leave covered and let them sit for 15 minutes before serving. (The top and bottom tortillas will probably be too soggy, but the others should be perfect.)
Large batch steaming:
Use a larger roaster with a wider steaming rack and arrange in two stacks. Follow the above method for steaming 12 tortillas.
General reheating tip:
Leave tortillas in the steamer pot or the roaster and place, covered, in a warm oven (200 degrees). They'll be fine for serving for up to an hour.
Favorite Recipes with Tortillas
Now that you have a stack of flour and corn tortillas, here are a few things to do with them.
You'll find these brands just about anywhere. Look for additions by region and by flavor - coming up!
-Azteca:Found in the refrigerated section. They come in small, super size, and burrito.
-Guerrero's: Started in 1973, this is a growing brand. You can purchase their corn tortillas in quantities from 12-90 - great for power eaters! Their flour version is thin and perfect for eating on the side. (For English, look for the subtle click-on in the upper right hand corner.)
-La Tortilla Factory: Features a wide variety of wraps, including organic and whole wheat, plus flavored varieties (tomato basil and rosemary).
On a personal note: I have met few tortillas that I didn't like, but their lower carb version happens to be one of them. They're pricey and literally cut your mouth after they're heated (they're very coarse). As for the taste - you can get a pretty good idea of that from the way they look. Don't need to say more, do I?
-Mission Mission gets 5 gold stars from me for its really tasty Carb Balance versions in two sizes. The company also features low-fat and a range of other packaged goods that are simply excellent. They also sell flavored wraps, tostados and a host of other related items.
-Old El Paso: Gets raves as a favorite brand of taco shells. They also produce kits for the Mexi-challenged. Have not yet tried their soft tortillas.
-Ortega: They also have boxed products that make it easy to fix a meal in a hurry!
-Tia Rosa: Tia Rosa products are Mexican born and now part of the Bimbo product line. It's a name brand found in all major grocery chains. I give their site rave reviews for looks and content!
-Tumaros: Gets raves for it's heart-healthy versions. You can get them at Amazon in plain and honey-wheat (other flavors are available in stores). (The low-carb variety has some mixed reviews). Convenience of shipping to your door is nice!
Tortilla Seasoning Tips
It's possible to add your own seasonings to flour tortillas. These can be wet or dry and there are plenty of ingredients with which to experiment.
The trick to adding flavorings:
-Dry spices go into the flour
-Wet ingredients are mixed into the water.
-For wet ingredients, use a food processor or mini-chopper to get a good grind.
That's all there is to it. Here's a list of favorite seasonings:
-chipotles (dried, smoked jalapenos)
-cilantro, fresh (minced) or dried
-red pepper flakes
-reconstituted chile de arbol (hotter peppers that have been dried)
If you need a Mexican food recipe "bible," this is it!
It's from Rick Bayless - what else do I need to say?
The Healthy Side of Corn & Flour Tortillas
Here's the nutritional scoop on our favorite flat breads!
Corn and flour tortillas are generally healthier than breads.
-Both are low in fat.
-Corn tortillas contain no gluten.
-Low-carb flour tortillas are also available.
-Pre-made taco shells average about 19 grams carbohydrates for three shells.
Corn: 1 gram
Flour: 2.5 grams
Corn: 1 gram
Flour: 3 grams
Corn: 12 grams
Flour: 20 grams
Online Specialty Tortilla Shops and Mexican Grocers - Looking for the perfect Mexican ingredients and unique gadgets? Shop here without leaving home!
- Mexican Food & Gifts To Go
Easy shopping for everything you'll need for that next Fiesta - and more! History, facts, recipes, and instructions galore.
Gifts, recipes, and a great line of Mexican food - all ready to order and ship straight to your home! It doesn't get any better than that, does it?
- La Tortilla Oven - Tortilla Warmer for the microwave or stove
Decorative warmers feature round mitt styling for flour and corn tortillas. Really fun and sure to get admiring comments.
Individual taco holders -Colorful, cute and oh, so practical! Individual holders mean you can pile up a plate with tacos and arrange them in any direction. Gotta have 'em!
Veggie-Flavored Tortilla Wraps
Double your fun with these veggie-flavored tortillas
Tumaro's provides plenty of choices in flavored wraps. You can purchase them easily here in batches of 6 packages.
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Wanna talk about tortillas? Or Mexican food in general, leave your comments - one and all! Thanks!