Excerpted from the book The Wicked Healthy Cookbook, by Chad Sarno, Derek Sarno, and David Joachim. Copyright © 2018 by Chad Sarno and Derek Sarno. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved. Main Photo by Eva Kosmas Flores.
“It’s an incredible feeling to make something yourself that you’re used to buying. It’s so liberating. Once you start making fresh tortillas, you’ll never look back. It’s a world of difference in flavor from pre-made tortillas, and they only take 20 minutes to make on any given taco Tuesday. If you mix up the dough in the morning, you can press tortillas out at night in even less time. Or make the dough the night before, and then press the next day. I learned the basics from a cook in Austin years ago, and she turned me on to Gold Mine organic masa harina flour. It has a coarse texture that feels really good in your mouth. Look for white, yellow, and blue corn varieties online or at food co-ops. Sometimes, I like to mix it 50:50 with the more popular Maseca masa harina, which has a finer texture.”
- 1 cup fine white masa harina flour, such as from Gold Mine or Maseca
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, preferably flake salt for crunch
- About 1 cup warm water
- Spray oil, for the pan
- Mix the flour and salt by hand in a mixing bowl. Drizzle in the warm water in ¼-cup increments, mixing well. (Warm water hydrates the dough faster than cold water and helps you get the right moistness.) The dough should feel soft and a little grainy, like slightly wet Play-Doh. When you roll the finished dough between your palms, you should see a light speckle of masa grains on your skin. Add just enough water to get to that consistency. If adding wet ingredients (see the Options, below), such as vegetable purees, herbs, or liquid extracts, you won’t need quite as much water. If adding dry ingredients such as spices, other flours, or seeds, you’ll need a little extra water.
- Gather the dough into a ball and place in a zipper-lock bag. Let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes to hydrate the masa. You can also refrigerate the dough ball in a zipper-lock bag for a few days (see Pro Tip).
- When you’re ready to cook some tortillas, heat a heavy pan over medium heat. (I like to use a large cast-iron griddle over two burners so I can cook 3 or 4 tortillas at a time.) Spray or coat the pan with oil, then wipe with a paper towel to leave only a thin film of oil on the pan.
- Get a new gallon-size zipper-lock bag and cut off the zipper top. Cut down the two opposite sides, so you are left with a folded piece of plastic with a crease. This is your nonstick surface for pressing tortillas.
- Roll the dough into balls the size of Ping-Pong balls, about 1½ inches in diameter (image A). Place a ball on one half of the plastic, cover with the other half, and flatten slightly with your palm. Place on a tortilla press, and press gently (image B). Tortilla presses vary in width, so rotate the tortilla a few times, pressing the dough to about an 1/8-inch thickness.
- Gently peel off the plastic (image C), place the tortilla on the hot pan, and cook for about 30 seconds. Be patient and resist the temptation to touch it. When the edges look slightly dry and splintered with teeny cracks, after about 30 seconds or 1 minute, use a spatula to flip the tortilla; cook for 20 seconds more. Repeat one or two more times to get a little bit of color on your tortilla. Transfer to a tortilla warmer or clean kitchen towel, allowing the tortilla to steam and soften for 10 minutes or so. Gentle steaming is important. If you use fresh tortillas right away without steaming, they’re more likely to crack. Keep pressing, cooking, and stacking/steaming tortillas, re-using the zipper-lock bag. Use immediately or keep covered at room temperature for a few hours.
To keep the tortillas for a couple of days in the fridge, add 1½ teaspoons cornstarch to the dough. Cornstarch will make the tortillas more pliable so they’re less likely to crack when chilled.
HEMP TORTILLAS (optional)
Add ¼ cup raw hemp hearts (shelled seeds) along with the flour. The little bit of extra fat makes the tortillas more pliable and chewy. If you happen to have a beautiful fresh hemp leaf, you could press that into the tortillas as well.