Thursday, December 28, 2006

La Tortilleria En Mi Cocina


With the exception of a few months when I was an infant, I've lived in Texas all my life. By default that makes me a bit of an expert in Tex-Mex cuisine, having been steeped in the stuff the better part of 40 years. If you've never experienced a really good homemade tortilla, my heart goes out to you. In addition to being highly versatile, they are world-class comfort food.

White flour tortilla dough is basically water, flour & some kind of fat (lard, butter, shortening) with a little baking powder & salt, so getting it to taste like much is a bit of a challenge, which is why you sometimes find them in supermarkets with other ingredients such as pico de gallo, sun dried tomatoes & the like. I don't like them defiled that way but don't object to their being available to those who do.

At any rate, my tortilla-related culinary education has been a bit backasswards. I've made tacos & enchiladas since about age 10 and fajitas since my teens (using store bought tortillas). I even learned to make some killer tamales a few years ago. With the gift of a comal (a special tortilla griddle) and a tortilla warmer from my mom a few days ago, I am now beginning my foray into making handmade tortillas, which theoretically I should have learned how to make first. Here's the deal though. I've formulated a wonderful recipe with the most perfectly flavored dough that results in a tender final product that's not too thick. Go me. However, I can't for the life of me figure out how to make them round. I've gotten all sorts of weird shapes - squarish, ovoid, heart, even one the shape of the continent of Australia - everything but round. An ideas on how to correct that and make them somewhat close to the shape I want? I'm open to suggestion.

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