Corn Tortillas

Making corn tortillas at home is probably not at the top of your to do list, but just maybe I can persuade you otherwise.

I used to make corn tortillas regularly when teaching visitors at the Santa Fe School of Cooking years ago. But I have to admit making tortillas at home fell by the wayside while living in Asia.
But I’m back in the Americas again where there are an abundance of ready made corn tortillas to choose from. Convenient, yes, but if you have ever tasted a freshly made corn tortilla you know there is no comparison.

Corn tortillas date back thousands of years to the Maya and Aztec cultures in Central America who developed a process of nixtamalizationof the corn that gives tortillas their distinctive flavor and also releases the nutritional values of the corn. You can read about this process in my post on Polenta ( click here)r Today corn tortillas are made using the same ground nixtamalized corn masa harina flour and the same traditional preparation methods. Corn tortillas fresh off a hot comal are colorful, aromatic, soft and pliable, and ready to be filled with whatever strikes your fancy.

So, with that in mind, let’s get to it!

There are only three ingredients required . corn masa harina,salt,  and water.

Masa harina is readily available in most grocery stores these days. Maseca is the standard white corn masa harina brand that iswidely available. There are also several other brands of both white and yellow and corn masa harinas that My recommend brands are Bob’s Red Mill organic golden corn flour masa harina for its rich yellow color, flavor, and texture. Or try King Arthur organic white corn masa harina. Both arevailable in somesupermarkets,as well as as Whole Foods, and online.

You will also need a tortilla press. I would recommend n economical and perfectly adequate aluminum tortilla press for around 16 $ on line. There are also a variety of heavier cast iron presses out there for the seriously committed at home tortilla maker!

For any press you choose you will need 2 plastic liners that are the same size as your tortilla press’s upper and lower plates. These plastic liners insure easy release of your tortillas once they are pressed. Freezer bag plastic works perfectly for this purpose. Just trace and cut them out to size. They are reusable. FYI, parchment or wax paper will not work!

Tortillas are traditionally cooked on a hot round cast iron comal, but a griddle, or a well seasoned cast iron skillet will be just fine..

And finally you will need a designated tortilla basket and a cotton cloth to wrap the tortillas in to keep them warm in the basket.

Corn tortillas: makes 116 tortillas or halve the recipe for 8.

  • 2 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill organic yellow corn masa harina or King Arthur organic white corn Masa Harina
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 2/3 cups warm water, approximately

Combine the masa flour and salt in a mixing bowl and mix to combine. Then, using your hand begin adding water while working it into the flour. Continue this process until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Slowly continue adding a little more water at a time until the dough comes together with the consistency of play dough. Ideally you want the dough to be moist, but not sticky. Then knead the dough for several minutes to allow the dough to absorb the moisture evenly throughout.

Then using an an ice cream scoop, d ivy out equal portions of dough and roll into 16 balls. Set them aside and covered with a damp kitchen towel.

Preheat your comal or skillet over medium heat for 15 minutes before you are ready to begin cooking the tortillas. You can adjust the heat slightly higher as needed once you begin cooking the tortillas.

Once you are set up and ready to go, place a plastic liner on the bottom tortilla press plate. Place a ball of masa dough in the middle of the press plate. Place the other plastic liner on top. Flatten the dough a little bit using your hand and then lower the upper press plate and apply pressure to pres the dough into a thin round tortilla. With a little practice you will be turning out perfectly round thin tortillas in no time!

Once pressed, lift the upper press plate and remove the tortilla and place it in the palm of your other hand. Gently peel off the plastic liner. Then flip the tortilla over inyour hand and peel off the remaining plastic liner. Then slide the tortilla onto the comal or skillet and cook for 30 or 40 seconds. Lift the edge of the tortilla and flip it over with a spatula, or fingers once you feel comfortable with the process. Let the tortilla cook another 60 to 80 seconds. Flip the tortilla over once again and cook another 15 or 20 seconds. You may see the tortilla puffing up slightly. Then transfer the tortilla to a basket lined with cotton cloth and cover while you continue making the remaining tortillas. This whole cooking process will become second nature in no time!

You can keep the tortillas warm in the basket for an hour or so. For longer storage, cool the tortillas to room temperature. Then stack them and slip them into a plastic bag, seal, and store in the refrigerator. Freezing is not recommended.

To rewarm the tortillas, remove them from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Then wrap the stacked tortillas in a cotton cloth and microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.

You may now congratulate yourself! You are on your way to becoming a tortilla master!

Well done!

…. and Buen provecho!

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