Tortilla Thursday

OK, here’s the scene: wife is getting haircut, then running errands. Husband is home alone. Outside chores are done. What’s a fellow to do? If you’re me you make tortillas, of course!

It’s not my first time making flour tortillas, but it’s the first time since I got a tortilla press. And, some local lard made from the contented hogs at Stonewall Farms. What, did he just say LARD? Yes, I made the tortillas using lard, the same stuff we were warned was bad for us a few years back, when we were told to start using shortening and margarine instead. Guess what? The experts were wrong! Come to find out shortening and many margarines were made from hydrogenated fats and were full of something called trans fatty acids. And trans fatty acids are worse for you than the saturated fats in lard and butter.

So while lard is not exactly health food, in small quantities it’s not going to kill you either. And it does wonders for the flavor of these tortillas. I found the recipe here on the Fresh Loaf. It’s pretty simple: 2 cups unbleached flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 cup lard, and 3/4 cup warm milk (I used skim). It makes 12 tortillas. Running the numbers through my Living Cookbook software, that works out to about 120 calories and 1.6g of saturated fat per tortilla.

Making them was a snap with the tortilla press. I used the stand mixer to mix the dough for about 5 minutes until it formed a nice smooth ball, then I divided it into 12 equal portions by weight. I covered the dough balls and let them rest for 30 minutes. Somewhere near the end of that time I plugged in our electric skillet and set it on about 400F.

ball of dough befopre pressing (click on any image to enlarge)

To form the tortillas, I put a piece of plastic wrap on the tortilla press and put one dough ball right in the middle, and covered the dough with more plastic wrap. Then I pressed down with the tortilla press as hard as I could. I opened it up, peeled the now flattened dough off the plastic, and dropped it into the hot skillet.

pressed tortilla dough

I cooked them for one minute, until the dough was puffing up, then flipped them and cooked for another minute. After cooking I transferred them to a clean towel to cool. You want the tortillas to be done, but still pliable. The first time I made them (last year) I overcooked the first few and they wound up like little pizza crusts – tasty, but not usable for wraps.

tortillas will puff up when cooking

This time I knew better. They all came off the skillet looking good. I was able to make the tortillas from start to finish, and have the kitchen cleaned up before my wife even got back home. Too bad she missed all the fun! She’ll have to read this to see how it went. Of course there’s that stack of warm tortillas waiting for dinner tonight. And the lovely aroma wafting through the house.

tortilla after turning

I’ve got a piece of skirt steak that I’m going to marinate and grill, along with some tomatoes (we got ’em), peppers and onions. We’ll have fajitas on homemade tortillas. I can hardly wait!

finished tortillas cooling on towel

The leftover tortillas freeze well for later use. And where’s the pinto beans? I can see some bean burritos in my future too! Now that I’ve got the process down, I want to experiment with the recipe and try it with some whole wheat flour. You can bet I’ll let you know how that turns out.


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16 Responses to Tortilla Thursday

  1. Shawn Ann says:

    Mmmmm those look so good! I have wanted to try making tortillas for a long time now! You just can’t get good fresh ones anywhere around here! I was spoiled in TX, you could get fresh warm ones from the local store! I miss them!

  2. Robin says:

    Thanks for posting this recipe. I guess that I need to find myself some good lard!

    • Villager says:

      Too bad we aren’t closer or we could share some of ours. We had to buy it in a gallon tub! We keep it in the freezer and take it out as needed.

  3. Since I don’t have a husband as talented in the kitchen as you, the next best thing is that I live in a community with Hispanics in the majority. We have several markets that make fresh tortillas at a very reasonable price. They use lard 😉

  4. Jody says:

    I love this post. Everything from grass fed animals to responsible, yet enjoyable eating… with details. Thanks!

  5. kathy says:

    Hey Lynda, I love what happens at your house when you’re out running errands…wish homemade tortillas would happen at my house when I’m gone and he’s home alone….lol

  6. GrafixMuse says:

    I made tortillas once, but can’t remember what I used for the fat. I know it wasn’t lard. I also rolled them out with a rolling pin. They were very good, much better than what we can buy in the grocery store, but it was time consuming trying to roll them out by hand. This post makes me want to try them again using lard. I bet they are so much easier to make with a tortilla press too.

  7. Mike says:

    A tortilla press is something we have been talking about getting, we roll ours out by hand and a press woul m ake life a lot easier on tortilla night. I enjoyed seeing yours in action, I have never used one.

    • Villager says:

      My first thought was ‘why didn’t I get this sooner’. It really beat trying to roll them out in a nice circle with a rolling pin. I’d like to try it for pitas, but I’m guessing that dough will be too stiff.

  8. bunkie says:

    those look wonderful! we’ve been looking around at presses too. can you tell us more about the press you bought? thanks!

  9. kitsapFG says:

    I am inspired by your post to pull my tortilla press out of the back of the cupboard and make up a batch of lovely warm flour tortillas! Our tomatoes are producing and the peppers are on too – so it would be a treat time to make fajitas the focus of the dinner menu.

    We long ago banished all man made/alterered fats from our house and pantry. Our societies nutrition based health issues grew dramatically after the early 50’s when our food became more and more engineered and not grown. I believe strongly in eating food – real food.

    I snagged the flour tortilla recipe and saved it to use soon. Thanks for posting it!

  10. LynnS says:

    Wow — what a nifty tool! And all this time, I’ve been using my hands and a rolling pin….geez.

    I see all the pre-rolled tortilla balls and have no doubt that they are all weighed in to be about the same. Do I know you well? lol

    Keep up the good-hubby training. Women love guys who cook!!

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