Corn Tortillas

Corn tortillas? Yes please! Fresh, made-at-home corn tortillas?! We’re listening …

This year, we decided to skip the grocery store corn tortillas and opted instead to make our own. Every recipe you’ll find makes it sound like a 5 minute project. It is not. Kitchen DIY projects always take longer than you think they should and corn tortillas are no exception. Yes, measuring masa harina and water take no time. Mixing them takes slightly more, but still no time to speak of. Rolling them (or pressing them) and then cooking them takes time. But when you’re also enjoying a cerveza or cocktail there’s no real rush, right?

A typical recipe for homemade tortillas will yield anywhere from 18 to 24 tortillas, depending on their size and thickness. Because the dough dries out quickly, it isn’t something that can just sit around waiting for you. You have to work to get them all onto the griddle before they get away from you and that cooking takes real time. We suggest you budget a half hour for mixing and griddle time.

A note on masa harina: dried masa is available in just about every grocery in the country. It is inexpensive and a 5 pound bag will yield plenty of tortillas. Be sure to use it quickly as corn flour will oxidize and taste terrible after a while in your pantry. If you’re lucky to live where there is a good sized Latino population and local Latin American groceries, you may be able to find corn masa freshly ground and ready to press. Go for it if you can find it.

We used a fresh batch of tortillas for an evening of venison tacos. The leftovers will be fried and used in an upcoming chilaquiles recipe post so stay tuned. Now, pass the tequila!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

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Fresh Corn Tortillas

2 cups masa harina
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups warm water

Heat an iron skillet or griddle over medium heat.

Whisk masa harina and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a little well in the center and add the warm water. Work the water into the masa and knead it for 2-3 minutes until the water is absorbed and the dough forms a ball. It should be very soft but not sticky to the touch.

Take about a walnut-sized portion of the wet masa and form it into a ball. You can roll the tortillas out with a rolling pin or you can use a tortilla press. If you use a press, you’ll want to use a couple of pieces of plastic to keep the dough from sticking to the press. We cut the side seems of a quart sized ziplock bag and put the ball of dough between the plastic sheets before pressing.

Once pressed, gently ease the wet tortilla onto the pan or griddle and leave for a couple of minutes without disturbing them. They’ll dry a bit around the edges and release from the pan. Flip and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip again and cook until they start to brown slightly. They’ll seem a little dry, but once you take them off the griddle, you will wrap them in a clean town or a sheet of aluminum foil where the residual heat and water will steam them while you continue to cook the remaining tortillas. The steam will soften them by the time you’re ready to eat.

Leftover can be wrapped and refrigerated. Reheat in microwave or toast over an open gas flame on your stovetop. Better yet, cut them into quarters and fry in veggie oil until crips. Salt and serve with your favorite salsa, queso or guacamole.

Red Onions: Quick Pickled Red Onions

Our pantry is well stocked, most of the time, and that means we have a variety of aromatic veggies – onions (yellow and red), shallots, leeks (in season), garlic, fresh ginger – at our reach in the kitchen. Onions are so foundational in savory cooking that most dishes start off with the simple step of sautéing-minced onions. However, we really love pickled red onions at the moment, so no cooking is required in this recipe.

Red onions are best raw. They’re fine cooked, they’re onions, and if we need them for a dish and we’re out of the yellow ones, reds work. But the beauty of red onions is in the bright color and the mild, crisp flesh. We prefer them sliced thin when eating them raw (easier to control how much you’re getting in each bite). But if we’re grilling them, they’re easiest to handle when cut into thick slices or quarter wedges.

We eat onions because they’re delicious. As it turns out, they’re also good for us. Full of heart-healthy sulfides, onions may aid in lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol. Chemicals in onions also promote healthy gut bacteria and may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Onions are anti-inflammatory and a great source of vitamin C. A cup of chopped onions contains about 64 calories, so eat up.

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Pickled Red Onions

Use the red onions to top tacos, burgers, sandwiches, salads, or to garnish hors d’oeuvres.

1 large red onion
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Using a mandolin, or a knife, slice the onion very thin, then add to a non-reactive bowl and cover with vinegar. Marinate for at least an hour at room temperature before using. Pickled onions will last a good while in the refrigerator in an airtight container.