What happens on taco night when you live an hour from the closest grocery store and you forgot to buy tortillas?
In my family it motivated us to learn to make them ourselves.
We lived for one year on ranch in the Hill Country of central Texas and though I made it into town once a week, I often found myself wanting a loaf of bread or a bagel or in this case a tortilla and didn’t have the option to buy it. It is amazing how motivating it is to be without something you want. Needless to say, during that year my baking skills improved significantly.
It happens that making tortillas is a simple process. Now granted there are those who have perfected this beyond perfection, we won’t all get there. But anyone can make a tasty simple tortilla that will easily please a crowd on taco night. And it doesn’t take as long as you might think.
Once you get a feel for this recipe you will find that mixing the dough takes less than ten minutes. You need to give it an hour (or longer if you want) to rest and then making them takes about 30 minutes. If you are having company you will need to double this recipe, but this is a process that your friends and family would most likely love to learn.
This is from my favorite cookbook,
You only need four ingredients and one of them is water:
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of lard, butter or oil (I only ever bought lard for soap making, I never thought I’d use it to cook with, but on a whim I tried it and haven’t turned back. I can only vouch for this recipe made with lard, I’ve never tried the other fats.)
1/2 cup of warm water, more as needed.
I used to do this in the food processor but now I just mix it by hand. I’ll give directions for both.
If using a food processor:
- Combine flour and salt in container of food processor, use the dough blade (the dull one)
- Add fat and pulse a few times to mix in.
- Turn machine on and slowly add water and stop when the dough forms a ball.
If mixing by hand
- Combine flour and salt in a bowl.
- Add fat, mix in with two knives or, if you are like me, mix it in with one hand, by pinching and dropping the flour until it is all greasy, it won’t be well mixed, but just make sure the big blobs of fat are stirred into the flour (this is very sticky if using your hands).
- Mix with one hand or with a spoon and slowly add water with the other hand, stir and add small splashes until dough holds together and forms a ball. If you accidentally add too much water and it gets too sticky just add a little sprinkle of flour.
- Knead 1 minute in food processor ( basically keep the machine running for one minute). Or turn dough out onto a floured surface and kneed by hand for 4-5 minutes (flatten the dough then fold it in half and flatten it out again, over and over until it is smooth and elastic, you can also just do this in the mixing bowl if you don’t want to dirty your counter yet.)
- Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, store dough in the fridge for a few hours or on the counter for an hour.
To make tortillas:
- Let dough warm up to room temperature if it was in the fridge.
- Break dough into pieces, this recipe is technically for 6, I make smaller ones so it makes 8 for me plus a tablespoon or two for my daughter to play with. Form each section into a ball.
- Take a dough ball and flatten it on a lightly floured surface, then with a rolling pin roll it out until it is very thin, 1-2 millimeters thick.
- Heat skillet. A cast iron skillet works great here, but any one will do. Medium heat is best, but I usually end up turning mind down to low to keep from burning. These cook pretty fast so you have to watch them.
- One at a time lay the tortilla in the hot skillet, cook for about 2 minutes on each side (more or less depending on heat and thickness of your tortilla). You will see it puff up and get slightly brown, once it does this flip it over, cook the other side and then remove
- Lay them inside of a towel or special tortilla container. Lining either with a piece of plastic wrap will help keep them warm and prevent them from drying out.
Serve warm with whatever else you are cooking. Use them the next day in quesadillas.