I am not really the type to make a pastry crust for every pie I’ve ever attempted, nor am one for making fresh pasta (although I did get a nice little machine not so long ago so maybe pasta making is in my future). Do you feel a big however coming?? However, this is something you have got to try. A fresh homemade tortilla is simply one of the best surprises my taste buds have ever had.
This is all you need: 2 & 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, 1 tsp kosher salt, 4 tbs vegetable lard (I use Crisco), 1 cup warm water (more or less), extra flour for rolling. You will also need a rolling-pin and if you have a tortilla press – all the better. I didn’t have one for years and just pounded the disc out with my hand (I’ve heard that some people put it under their arm and flatten it into a nice 8″ round??? – so…whatever works I suppose!)
Method: Put flour in bowl and add salt and stir in with a hand whisk. Add lard and knead in with fingertips until it looks like flour with crumbles in it. Make a well in the center and add the cup of warm water. Stir in with a small wooden spoon until the mixture is one big dough ball – should take only a minute.
Flour your countertop or a board (I myself don’t have room for a board) and knead dough for about 2 minutes. What is kneading?? – just sort of push it forward with your palms, turn it to a different side and repeat. Keep flouring as you need it (if the dough feels tacky on your hands).
Shape into a kind of fat log and cut in the middle with a sharp knife. In turn cut those pieces in the middle (now you have 4!). Now cut each of those pieces in half – now you have 8 pieces.
Pick each one up and roll in between palms until you have a rough ball. Place all 8 pieces on a floured board and cover for about 20 minutes or so (you can busy yourself with chopping wobbly chicken!).
After 20 minutes make a clean space on your countertop and put flour on your rolling-pin. Throw 2 or 3 dough balls into your flour bag and toss about. Put a nice heavy pan on medium to low heat and take a floured piece of dough from the bag and pound with your palm until you have a flat roundish disc.
It makes a bit of noise but just warn everybody that there will be a little pounding going on in the kitchen for awhile…When it is flat take your rolling-pin and working from the middle, roll to the edge. Lean lightly as you go. Keep switching directions and repeating the same action until your dough is about an 8″ disc.
Remember to keep adding the dough to the bag of flour as you proceed. Being exact about the roundness is not something you should worry about. The ones I make look like anything from a sort of roundish square to an odd-shaped circus animal. Place dough in pan, wait for it to start to bubble and bulge and then flip and do the same (about 1 minute per side, although the first one may take longer as the pan might not have warmed up enough). Keep throwing dough into the bag and work continually.
As the dough on the pan is cooking you are busy rolling out the next one. When the one in the pan is cooked place on a dinner plate that has a teacloth laid over it. This is an amazing little discovery of mine. Right before the next one is done fold the teacloth over the last cooked tortilla and then put the next one onto the new teacloth fold. Keep doing this until all 8 are ready. As I run out of teacloth folds I just add another teacloth. It eventually turns into a stack of swaddled floury tortillas.
OK – I know this sounds like a job but watching the bubbling dough is very satisfying. Don’t the pictures make you a little curious?? They stay warm in their blanket while you prepare the filling (be it chicken fajitas, scrambled eggs, cheese w/ scallion and bacon and on and on…)You can also store them in a sealed plastic bag in your fridge for 2 weeks or more.