There are a few sacred grocery items that we all have to have on hand at all times. For me, there are several. Eggs. Yogurt. Extra-sharp cheddar and extra-virgin olive oil. Unsalted butter. Good coffee and creamer. Wine, of course. Certain paper products, like paper towels. And flour tortillas. But since we live in the sticks without a Trader Joe’s right around the corner, I have to make a weekly trek to Earth Fare to procure my organic ones.
Tortillas are so handy for so many purposes – breakfast burritos, lunch wraps, a quickie pizza base, enchiladas and chimichangas – it’s one convenient item that I happily pay for. But, a few months back with soft tacos on the menu, sure as the dickens that I had my prized stash way in the back of the produce crisper, I opened the drawer, dug around and found it empty. I was not a happy camper. Nothing can bum you out like an out-of-stocker that you were counting on for dinner that is rapidly approaching. I weighed a few options – taco salad instead? But I was craving softtacos. Spicy beef tucked into a warm tortilla, brimming with crisp toppings and topped with a generous dollop of guac and sour cream.
I thought, “Seriously, how hard could it be to make a really good tortilla?” It’s a pretty simple dough, so, I measured some flour, added a little salt and baking powder, cut in some vegetable shortening and trickled in some hot water. Rolled out the tortillas and griddled them over a hot flame. And, after just one fabulous bite, I mentally crossed store-bought tortillas off my perpetual list of those Must-Have-on-Hand items because after tasting a hot, fresh, homemade one, I couldn’t possibly go back to the kind in the plastic bags ever again.
The Stock Pot: Fundamental Recipes – Homemade Flour Tortillas
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, preferably non-hydrogenated
- ¾ cup hot water
- Have 8 squares (each about 10-inches) of parchment paper handy. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture has pea-sized lumps. Drizzle in the water, tossing the flour mixture with your hands as you pour. Add a little more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until you have a slightly sticky dough. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Flour your work surface; evenly divide the dough into 8 balls. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out each tortilla into a circle, about 8 inches in diameter (roll from the center out, much like pie dough). Place it on a piece of parchment paper and place another piece of parchment paper on top of the tortilla. Continue rolling the remaining balls of dough, separating each with a piece of parchment paper.
- Heat a dry nonstick griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Use the parchment paper to lift off one tortilla and place it in the skillet – parchment side up. Remove the parchment paper and cook the tortilla about 1 minute per side, until it puffs slightly and begins to brown. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Serve immediately or keep warm in aluminum foil or a slow oven until ready to serve.
…from the Picture-Perfect kitchen:
Planning: Keep the cooked tortillas in an airtight container in the refrigerator; reheat in a dry skillet. You can also freeze them; place in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and gently reheat.
Product Purity: There are some organic options for non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, like Spectrum and Earth Balance, available at whole foods markets.
Presentation: Remember, homemade foods, like tortillas, are supposed to look homemade, which is, in my humble opinion, what makes them so appealing.