We’re deep into the football season, which means anything Tex-Mex is on my family’s weekend menu. Bottomless pots of chili, taco bars, and queso dip just seem to go hand-in-hand with televised sports and cold beer.
But I just can’t bring myself to buy tortillas. Just reading the ingredients list makes my toes curl. Mold inhibitor potassium sorbate, dough conditioner sodium metabisulfite, sodium aluminum sulfate, monoglycerides, hydrogenated oils, fumaric acid, and calcium propionate are just some of the ingredients listed on a package of soft tortillas. And all of these ingredients have been approved by the FDA, and have been deemed safe for consumption, but that does not mean that I want my family to eat them.
So, I spend a little extra time in the kitchen and make my own tortillas. It’s not hard, but does take a little skill. My friend Tesa asked my advice on how to make tortillas, and I just told her that if they don’t turn out right the first time, don’t get discouraged. You’ve got to get a feel for the dough and learn how to cook them on a skillet to get the right browning. It took me a few times to get the right thickness (or thinness, perhaps) so that they didn’t resemble more of a flat bread.
And in no way are these tortillas authentic. It’s the best this Midwestern Germanic lady can do. If a latina grandma would like to adopt me for the day to teach me how to make traditional, old-school tortillas, I’d be down for that. In exchange, I’ll teach her how to make something German, like sauerbraten.
And don’t worry if they’re not perfectly round like those store-bought tortillas. Mine turn out in a variety of shapes, but I like to think of them as cumulus clouds: They’re all kinda round, but each is unique. Then again, I’m not a pretentious television food critic. I only care about taste and a good texture.
However, I will warn you that once you start making and eating homemade tortillas, you won’t want to eat the store-bought ones anymore. If you’re like me, you’ll open the bag and it smells like a plastic/rancid oil odor. And the texture is, well, rubbery. That’s the best way I can describe it. Even the taste will be “off.” So, I don’t buy them anymore, or order wraps from restaurants.
Another point I’d like to make here is cost: It is simply cheaper to make your own tortillas. Even now, close to the holidays, flour is on sale for $1.29 per five-pound bag. At 17 cups per bag, that’s about eight cents a cup. I purchased a 33.8 fluid-ounce bottle of grape seed oil for $3 at a food-salvage store, which comes to about five cents a tablespoon. So, I estimate this recipe costs me about 25 cents to make, and another 40-ish cents in cooking oil, or 65 cents, versus $1.59 for a package of 10 medium tortillas. So, not only are there fewer ingredients in homemade tortillas, but it’s more economical for those of us who need to watch our pennies.
So the next time you gear up to watch a game with your family, give this tortilla recipe a try. I’ve used them to make tacos, quesadillas, and (my fave) enchiladas. I dare say that they’re mighty tasty, especially when compared to those packaged tortillas.
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
• 1 tablespoon flavorless oil (I use nonGMO grape seed, canola, or safflower, whatever is on sale)
• ¾ cup warm water
1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder.
2. Add oil and warm water. If the dough appears “shreddy,” that is OK.
3. Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and not too sticky.
4. Pull small handfuls of dough and roll into balls. I usually get 10 dough balls.
5. With floured rolling pin, roll the balls into thin circles. The thinner, the better. But make sure it will fit into your skillet (don’t make them too large that the sides come up over the pan).
6. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil (I like grape seed, but any is fine).
7. Place one tortilla in the skillet, careful not to splash the oil.
8. Cook on one side for a minute or two, or until the tortilla is golden brown.
9. Flip tortilla to the other side and cook for about a minute.
10.Remove from heat on to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
11. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all tortillas are cooked. You may not need more oil for every tortilla, just add a little to have something in the skillet if it’s dry. Again, this is something you’ll learn after you’ve made them a few times.
Serve immediately, or keep warm in the oven, set on low/warm. Yields 10 medium tortillas. I find that leftover tortillas become tough, so I make this small batch so that we can eat them all in one meal. If you need more than 10 tortillas, simply double the recipe.
Corinne Gompf is a writer and hobby farmer in Morrow County, Ohio. She is a graduate from the University of Toledo, with a BA in English, creative writing concentration. Along with her husband, Matt, and two children, Fletcher and Emery, Corinne raises poultry, Boer goats, rabbits, and chemical-free produce. Connect with Corinne on her Heritage Harvest Farm Facebook page.
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