One thing I remember clearly from my days as a young bride in Mexico, is my mother in law swiftly introducing me to the Do’s and Don’ts of married life. Many had to do with making sure my husband was well-fed. Funny thing is that he was a much better cook than me and I was just taking my first baby steps into Mexican cuisine.
The essence of “well-fed” in a Mexican context means having tortillas, beans and salsa on the table at all meals. And even better if those tortillas were made from scratch. In the good old days tortilla bakeries (or: tortillerias) weren’t as plentiful as now and if you lived far away from one, you had to make your tortillas……. by hand….. every meal. Many young girls would learn how to make tortillas at a young age, helping out their mothers with this daily chore. So by the time they were the marriageable age, knowing how to make tortillas was a given. Decades went by and many girls started to go to school, making household skills less important. Modern life has led to only few knowing how to make tortillas.
The tortilla universe can be divided in two kingdoms: the corn tortilla (tortilla de maiz) and the flour tortilla (tortilla de harina). Corn tortillas are preferred in central and southern Mexico, while flour tortillas are mostly available in northern Mexico. Tortilla bakeries are also divided: you can’t find flour tortillas in a corn tortilla bakery and vice versa. Mazatlan is luckily home to both types of Tortillerias.
Next month my husband and I will celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. As a test to see if I’ve been worthy of being a Mrs, I made flour tortillas using the cookbook of Doña Cuca Cardenas. To make sure I got the insider tricks, I also visited a local flour tortilla bakery ‘Sunny’. They said the secret of a good flour tortilla lies in the kneading of the dough. So I gave it my all, working that elbow grease. Another piece of advice was: making perfectly round tortillas by hand is almost impossible. Thank goodness I knew this beforehand…
Flour tortillas are great for cheese quesadillas or for burritos. In the north of Mexico we love to fill them with scrambled eggs or shredded beef jerky (‘machaca’).
TORTILLAS DE HARINA
1 kilo or 2.2 pound white flour
200 gr or 7 oz lard
1 tsp salt
2 ¾ cup hot water
Put the flour in a large bowl and add the lard. Mix with your hands until it gets a crumbly consistency. Dissolve the salt in the hot water and add it to the flour mixture. Stir vigorously with a wooden spatula, then knead the dough with your hands for 5 minutes. Make 31 little balls, cover with cling film and leave to rest on a cookie tray for 30 minutes. Then roll out each ball with a rolling pin. Heat a skillet without oil or ‘comal’ (tortilla pan) at medium heat and grill the tortillas on both sides until slightly brown. Make sure to not overcook them, otherwise they will be crisp. Let the tortillas cool down on a tea towel or a rack. You can store the tortillas in a plastic bag in the fridge and keep them for up to a month.
MAKES 31 FLOUR TORTILLAS
BUEN PROVECHO!!! ENJOY YOUR MEAL!!!
Maaike Hoekstra has lived in Mexico for over 15 years. She is passionate about Mexican culture and food. Here are the stories and recipes she finds along the way.