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Tortillas de Maiz - Amazingly Good Corn Tortillas

Mexico's northern region is home to the flour tortilla, simply because that is where wheat is grown. On the opposite side of this country, in the south, corn grows in the poor soil and is harvested to make - among other things - corn flour, or masa harina.


Corn flour - not corn meal - is used in a variety of ways. Tortillas, of course, are probably the most familiar item. The resulting soft round circle is the base for tacos, totopos, tostados, and chalupas. Taco shells as we know them are Tex-Mex in origin; traditional tacos incorporate the soft shell as a wrap for the fillings.

Once you decide that corn tortillas are going to be a regular item on the table, you may want to invest in a tortilla press and a comal, which is a flat, heavy skillet. When you shop for a press, you'll find many options. I prefer a steel version because it is easier to care for although I cook the tortillas on a cast iron griddle. If you have a local ethnic market, look there first for the best pricing.

Whether using a rolling pin or a press, always cover both sides of the dough with wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent sticking. The process is basically the same as making flour tortillas.

Corn tortillas (Tortillas de Maiz)

1 cup instant masa (masa harina - available in most grocery chains)
½ cup water

Note: the above amount will make approximately six 6-inch tortillas

-Place corn flour in bowl.
-Slowly add water and mix thoroughly with fingers to form a soft dough. Add more water if too crumbly and more flour if it becomes too sticky.
-Cover with plastic and let the dough rest for about half an hour. (You can also make ahead and refrigerate until the next day. Just let come to room temperature.)
-Divide dough into equal sized balls.
-Press slightly in hand to flatten.
-Place between two pieces of plastic and press or roll out to a six-inch circle.

Preheat ungreased heavy skillet or griddle to medium-heat setting. Cook tortilla until bottom begins to brown in spots (about 1 minute). Turn once and cook another minute or until spotting occurs.

Stack your cooked tortillas in a dishtowel. They may feel stiff coming right out of the skillet but will soften.

That's all there is to it. Quick and easy, and so much better than those you buy at the store.

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