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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.