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Authentic Homemade Mexican Corn Tortilla Recipe

"Fresh corn tortillas make storebought taste like corn flavored cardboard..."

Fresh Corn Tortillas

From the Vegan Tacos cookbook by Jason Wyrick. He is absolutely right when he says that fresh corn tortillas make storebought taste like corn flavored cardboard.

That right there is why I picked this as a sample recipe. Besides, I've wanted to make corn tortillas for years!

Author Quote: 'Tortillas are the foundation of any taco. They carry the flavors of the rest of the taco. They are the vessel that holds the filling, condiments & sauces, and the first thing you taste when you bite into a taco.'

Total prep & cook time: 30 minutes

10 Corn Tortillas, 5 - 6 inch

Nutrition Data Per Serving, 1 tortilla, 26g: 58 cal, 1g fat, fat cal 5, 12g carb, 3mg sodium, 1g fiber, 1g protein, low cholesterol, good source Folate & Phosphorous. Estimated glycemic load: 6, gluten free.

To make your own corn tortillas, you will need:

  • a tortilla press
  • plastic sheets or wax paper
  • a hot griddle (comal or cast iron skillet)
  • a wide spatula
  • a towel
  • practice

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups masa harina flour (widely available in grocery stores)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
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Directions:

  1. Place the masa in a mixing bowl
  2. Heat the water until it is just starting to steam. Pour the water into the bowl. Mix it together with the masa harina so it's evenly distributed. Hang out and wait for 5 minutes
  3. The masa harina needs time to absorb the warm water before it can be turned into dough. Once that time has passed, work the wet masa with your hands until you have a thick, smooth dough
  4. Before you start working the masa, heat your griddle to just above medium heat. That way, as soon as you are done pressing your masa into proto-tortillas, you can put them on the griddle right away. Have a towel near the griddle so you can place your tortillas on it as they come off the griddle
  5. Take a chunk of masa and rolla it in your hands into a ball about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 inches in diameter. If you need to take or remove masa from the ball, do so , and then just re-roll it.
  6. Next, flatten this out into a disk between your hands. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper on the bottom part of your tortilla press. Place the disk on the plastic slightly off center towards the hinges. This is important because when you close the press, the masa will be pressed away from the hinges. By placing it slighly toward the hinges, the tortilla will be centered when you are done pressing it.
  7. Lay another sheet of plastic or wax paper on top of the masa, making sure the plastic covers the entirety of the tortilla press, bottom plate as well.
  8. Press the tortilla press closed, flattening the masa. The harder you press, the thinner your tortilla will be. If you want very thin tortillas, you will need a heavy press, like a cast-iron press.
  9. Peel away the top sheet from the flattened masa. Gently lift the plastic and flattened masa off the press and flip the flattened masa into your palm. The raw flattened masa should now be in your palm, and what was the bottom sheet of plastic should still be stuck to it, though now on top of the masa. Peel this away.
  10. Gently lay the tortilla onto your hot griddle. After about 30 seconds, you will see the edges turn color. Tease your spatula gently underneath the tortilla and flip it over. Let it toast for about a minute or so, then flip it over again. This time, you will toast the tortilla for another 30 seconds.
  11. If you've done everything right, your tortilla will puff up. If you like your tortillas a little extra toasty, you can go 2 - 2 1/2 minutes per side to get a little char on them, though they will lose some pliability.
  12. Transfer the tortilla to the towel and then fold the towel over it to keep it warm and pliable while you make the other tortillas. You can easily keep them this way for an hour.
  13. If you have a griddle big enough to cook several tortillas at once, press out all the masa into ready-to-be-made tortillas that you plan to cook before laying any of them onto the griddle. That means that if your griddle can handle cooking four tortillas at once, press out all four before placing them on the griddle. Now work quickly. Lay them on the griddle. By the time you lay the last one down, it's probably time to flip the first one.
  14. It takes a little practice, but you will find a rhythm and the tortillas will come together effortlessly. It took me about four times before I could get my tortillas to puff and another four or five times before I developed a good tortilla-making rhythym.
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Recipe Tips:

I've given Jason Wyrick's directions in full. I found the background comments and pictures in the cookbook helpful for fully grocking the process, but it's really pretty simple, and the main thing for me was practice. Know that your tortillas will taste wonderful - no matter what they look like, or if they puffed up.

The Vegan Tacos cookbook also gives directions for making corn tortillas from nixtamal, or freshly ground dried corn. A grinder is necessary for that, and I balked at buying one, so this recipe is just about making corn tortillas from masa harina. If you are deeply into authentic Mexican food, get the cookbook, buy a grinder and go for it! Jason Wyrick also covers flour tortillas which he calls "Taco Heresy", and hard shell tacos como Taco Bell.

Amount of Water in This Recipe: The first time I made corn tortillas, I found that they were a little hard to mix and knead. The second time I made them, I added another tablespoon of water, and that worked better. I also discovered that it's easy to add more water to the dough even after it's kneaded, because there's no gluten. Just knead it in.

This video is extremely helpful for getting the right consistency
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Wax Paper or Plastic Wrap? I tried both, and plastic wrap works best. And yes, it is necessary whether or not you're using a tortilla press. Recycled plastic produce bags are a good alternative.

No Salt? These traditional corn tortillas are unsalted, I suppose because they absorb the saltiness and strong flavors of the fillings. I cook with very little salt, so I added a sprinkle to my tortillas and my taste buds thanked me.

Tortilla Press or Not? I grumbled about buying a tortilla press to test Vegan Tacos, but now I congratulate myself on my good judgement and tell everybody how much I LOVE my tortilla press. But it isn't a must have - there are many ways to flatten a tortilla, including the traditional hand patting, or improvising with a cast iron fry pan, a plate, or 2 cutting boards, and your muscles, or rolling the dough between plastic sheets.

Another helpful video for making fresh tortillas from masa dough

If you are going to make a habit of homemade corn tortillas (and you will want to after you taste them), a tortilla press makes the whole process so much quicker and easier. This is the one I bought - it's cast iron. The aluminum ones are MUCH cheaper and won't rust - they are also lighter in weight.

Speaking of Fillings: The Vegan Tacos cookbook has many authentic and astoundingly delicious taco filling recipes, but as Jason Wyrick points out, just about anything can fill a taco. In the picture above, I used leftover pinto beans and vegetable stew, with lettuce, cilantro, salsa, avocado and grated vegan cheese.

Enjoy Fresh Corn Tortillas in the Following Recipes:

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