Tortillas de maíz hechas a mano – Homemade corn tortillas

Today I am posting my 100th blog entry! I wanted to make it special. I am posting my handmade tortillas because one of my first recipes was I’ve perfected this soup by popping torn quesadillas made with Monterey jack cheese on homemade tortillas into the broth.

I am fortunate to work in the Fruitvale section of East Oakland, near La Finca tortilleria which sells both their own tortillas and the fresh masa (dough). I’ve bought their tortillas for years, because I love to take home a warm package and because they are preservative-free. I recently dug out my tortilla press and began making my own tortillas from their fresh masa. This is stone-ground nixtamal, corn soaked in a lime mixture. Much better than the dry masa harina you mix with water, because the tortillas stay fresh longer.

The trick was to make the tortillas not stick to the pan or come out misshapen. The key is to have the comal hot enough and to handle the tortilla carefully so it doesn’t bunch up. My friend and colleague Maria  helped me perfect my tortillas and showed me how to make them puffy by pressing on them lightly after turning.

Here’s the drill: Heat a comal or heavy frying pan. Spread a long piece of plastic wrap over the inside of the tortilla press. Roll a golf-ball size piece of masa into a ball and place it in the middle of the bottom press.

Flatten it a little bit with your hand, then close the press and press the handle down. Don’t press so hard that the tortilla is too thin and squishes out beyond the edges. When you open the press, the masa should make a perfect circle.

Carefully peel one piece of the plastic off the tortilla. Holding the loose plastic over your hand, flip the tortilla on your hand.

Then carefully pull off the other side of the plastic. Flip the tortilla back on  your bare hand.

Slide the tortilla on the hot comal so that it lies flat on the comal. I usually can fit about 3 tortillas on my comal.

Heat the tortilla until the sides begin to dry out and start to curl up slightly. (Don’t turn them too soon or they will crumple and stick.)

You should be able to flip them with your hand, although you can use a spatula if you wish. If the comal is hot enough, they won’t stick. Heat the other side for half as long. Both sides should be lightly toasted. Flip it one more time and press your fingertips on them several times.

This somehow makes them puff up, which looks really cool.

Tonight we had tacos de Tinga de Pollo with homemade tortillas.

I love quesadillas with grated or sliced cheese on the puffy tortillas.

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