[UPDATE – I am now the proud owner of a tortilla press, thanks to Craigslist. More tortilla goofery to come soon.]
I really like corn tortillas. We eat them all the time – in these black bean tacos, crisped into strips for tortilla soup, and lightly oiled and baked into chips (trust me, it’s not as weird as it sounds). Flour tortillas are also delicious, but much heavier and more caloric, due to the large amount of fat. Corn tortillas are relatively good for you (they’re just corn), and they’re technically a whole grain, if you’re into that sort of thing (I’m not really, but whevs).
To make your own tortillas, you just mix the flour with a bit of water (2 cups of masa, 1 1/2 cups flour, and a half teaspoon of salt will give you 8 large tortillas). The cool thing about masa flour is that since there is no gluten, it’s pretty easy to work with. Just combine all the ingredients so they come together in ball, then let it rest for half an hour to finish hydrating.
Cut three edges off of a freezer Ziploc bag so that you have a sheet of plastic with a fold in the middle. Place the ball inside the flap, close it, and take a big frying pan and evenly press down on top. Really squish it in there! When you’re done, it should look like this:
…or you can fill them with queso Oaxaca and seasoned black beans and fry them in a bit of oil for a wonderful treat.
The dough is fragile once it’s flattened, so I found it easiest to fill them while still on the plastic, then use the bag to help flip the top over. It seems weird at first, but you’ll get the hang of it. Most of mine looked like this:
Here’s a quick recipe, but really, this is pretty flexible. I just found some leftover tinga in the fridge, and I’m already getting ideas…
Tlacoyo Masa Pockets
from Serious Eats
makes 4 pockets (enough for 4 people, if you have a salad or other side)
- 1 cup masa flour
- 3/4 cup water, more if needed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons lard, bacon fat, or oil
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced, OR substitute 1/2 cup your favorite salsa for the onion and garlic
- 1 can black beans
- 2 oz shredded Oaxaca cheese (or substitute Monterey Jack)
- Salt to taste
- 4 tablespoons neutral oil for frying
- Salsa for serving
- Chopped onion and/or cilantro for garnish
Mix the masa flour, water, and salt in large bowl to form a dough. Let sit 30 minutes, covered.
In a skillet, heat the fat over medium high heat. Cook the onion for a few minute until soft, then add the garlic and cook a few minutes more until fragrant. Add the beans and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened. [For a shortcut, you could substitute 1/2 cup salsa for the onion and garlic. I learned this trick from my mom, and it works really well] Let cool and mash slightly with a fork or potato masher.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces and flatten into disks as in the pictures above. Fill each with 1/4 of the bean mixture and 1/4 of the cheese and carefully close up and seal. Repeat with the other 3.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the pockets and cook, undisturbed, for at least 3 or 4 minutes, or until browned on one side. Carefully flip and cook a few more minutes on the other side. Serve, with salsa and other garnishes.