Before I decided to make corn tortillas from scratch, I never knew what was holding me back, other than not actually owning a tortilla press. And so, since I’d chosen corn as our theme ingredient for this Iron Chef battle, I figured it was the perfect time to give it a whirl.
Let’s just say that now, I know why I put if off for so dang long.
Does last Iron Chef seems like ages ago? Well, it sorta was – it was in March. Summer is just a hard time to get together for stuff like this, and we don’t have quite as many hard-core challengers like we did in Chicago, either. But the ones who like it, they don’t mess around, ya know? So anyway, we finally got enough people together to have another one, and since Jeff & I tied last time, we’d previously decided on some sort of double-ingredient challenge.
So CORN + GRILL it was. And no, the corn didn’t have to be the grilled component – just something had to be grilled. Just enough of something extra to add a little pressure, but not too much where we ended up with two crazy ingredients that people had to struggle with. I think it turned out nicely.
I ended up making a dish I’d made a couple of years ago, only with grilled corn for the pesto instead of sautéed corn.
But then I also decided that, since I’d recently purchased a tortilla press, I’d make some sort of homemade taco. Like I said, it wasn’t all fun and games in taco land. It was stone cold work. But I finally got the hang of it, after I’d wasted about half of my dough. The key is the plastic between the press – plastic wrap (aka saran wrap) will NOT do, believe me, I know. But a plastic ziploc bag cut to the shape of the press? Genius.
What do they taste like? Let’s just say that homemade corn tortillas are waaaaaayyyy better than the store-bought. And honestly, it ain’t that hard, once you get the right plastic.
Iron Chef top three:
- Heather’s tagliatelle with grilled corn pesto (me! again!)
- Taryn’s corn panna cotta
- Jared’s (aka Judy’s) corn griddle cakes topped with chorizo
Homemade Corn Tortillas
makes however many you don’t screw up, up to ~16
time commitment: 30 minutes?
2 c masa harina (special type of corn flour)
1/4 t baking soda
1 1/2 c water
small cast iron skillet
Add masa harina and baking soda to a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 c very warm water to the bowl. Mix in and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Begin working the masa with your hands to make the dough. Work the dough for several minutes. Press the dough with your fingers and the palms of your hands as if you were kneading bread dough. If at any point through the tortilla making process the dough seems too dry or too wet, add a little more water or masa to the dough. You want the dough to be wet, but not too sticky, if that makes sense.
Take a piece of the masa dough and shape it into a ball the size of a golf ball. Make balls using the rest of the dough; you should get at least 16 if you stick to that size. (You can really make these any size you want, so if you want baby tacos make smaller balls of dough.)
Take two pieces of wax paper or plastic from a plastic bag (a zip-loc bag, not a shopping bag) and cut them to the shape of the surface of the tortilla press. Open the tortilla press and lay one piece of wax paper on the press. Place the masa ball in the center. Place another piece of wax paper over the masa ball. Gently close the press and press down, until the dough has spread to a diameter of 6 inches.
Heat skillet over high heat. Working one at a time, hold a tortilla in your hand, carefully removing the wax paper on each side. Allow the tortilla to rest half on your hand, and half hanging down, and gently lay the tortilla down on to the skillet. Start working on pressing the next tortilla. Cook the tortilla on the hot pan for 30 seconds to a minute on each side. The tortilla should be lightly toasted and little air pockets forming.
Keep warm tortillas in a tortilla warmer, if you have one, or wrap them in a dish towel. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat.