Tortillas for the Table

Flour Tortillas

This recipe for whole wheat tortillas is a traditional recipe. Traditional tortillas from Taos Pueblo tend to be thicker and heftier, cooked in a little melted fat on the pan. Traditional tortillas from town tend to be thin, about six to 8 inches round and no fat was used on the pan for browning. Subtle differences, but that’s what makes the humble tortilla such a huge cultural indicator.

3 cups all-purpose white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup solid shortening
1 1/3 cups very hot water

Combine flours, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Cut in shortening and slowly add water to make a pliable dough.

Knead very well to form a large ball. Lightly grease top of ball and cover with wax paper. Let stand 15-20 minutes. Shape dough into 9-10 golf ball sized balls.

Roll out on a floured board as thin as possible. Brown on both sides in a hot ungreased griddle or cast-iron skillet.

Eat at once with butter or keep hot until time to serve. Makes 9 or 10 six- to eight-inch tortillas.

Corn Tortillas

2 cups masa harina
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons very hot water
½ teaspoon salt

Add the warm water and the optional salt to the masa harina in a mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough holds together.

Divide the dough into 12 equal parts. To keep the dough from drying out while you work, cover it with a damp cloth or up-end the bowl over them. Extra water can be added if the masa dries out while you’re working.

If you are simply a weekend tortilla maker, buying a tortilla press may not be a practical investment for you but you can roll out tortilla like a pro if you use a little tip: Roll out your individual tortillas between waxed paper or plastic (which works better). As you roll one, cook that on the heated comal or cast-iron tortilla pan and while it’s cooking, you roll out the next one.

Use just a little oil or melted fat (lard is traditional but even olive oil or coconut oil will work) in the pan and lightly brown the tortilla on both sides.

You might want to dab the tortilla with a paper towel if it gets too oily, or you can take the cooked ones off and let them cool between sheets of paper towel to absorb the extra oil you might not want in your recipe.

Half & Half

1 cup flour
1 cup masa harina
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ Tablespoons shortening
¾ cup hot water

Prepare like the recipes above.

Makes 12 tortillas