Everything—tacos, chicken, vegetables—tastes better with freshly made, warm, soft, and chewy tortillas. It's why when I moved from México to NYC, I decided I had to learn how to make my own.
After trying tons of different techniques and approaches, and after mucho trial and error, I finally found my way to making fantastic tortillas. Now I make masa once a week ,and I have fresh tortillas every day. (OK, almost every day). I hope you try this and that you find your way of making the tortillas. It's so easy, you won't believe it. After a little practice, you'll be a master tortillero in no time!
What you'll need for masa:
- Harina de maíz (You can use any brand just make sure the flour is made of "Maíz Nixtamalizado.")
- Pinch of salt (It's optional, but I always add it!)
- Plastic bag
- Tortilla Press (You can buy one from Amazon, Sur La Table, or Williams Sonoma.)
Tips before getting started:
- I added measurements to make it easier for the first time, but know that you don't need to measure anything, just add the water little by little until you find the perfect consistency.
- Don't add too much water. You may ask,"What is too much water?" A masa that sticks to your fingers and is hard to handle means you've added too much.
- Letting your masa rest is really important to let the corn hydrate, and have a flexible, soft masa that will make the perfect fluffy tortilla.
- If your masa feels dry, (you’ll know because the edges will look rough instead of a smooth circle) add water to your hand and form the testal (little ball) again.
- If you don't use all the masa you can wrap it in plastic and save it in the fridge. It will stay good for about 7 days. I do that so I only have to make my masa one time during the week. Just take it out of the fridge with enough time so the masa gets to room temperature.
- If the pan is hot enough, your tortillas should never stick and should flip easily without burning.
- Start with a thicker tortillas until you get the hang of peeling the tortilla from the plastic and setting it on the pan.
- If you don’t have a tortillero (tortilla basket) to keep the tortillas warm you can use a kitchen towel, just fold it into thirds and place the tortillas in the middle.
harina de maíz
- Pour harina de maíz in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt (about a teaspoon) to 1 3/4 cups water.
- Little by little start adding the water to the harina and start mixing with your hand. Keep adding water and mixing until you get a play dough-like texture. Once you have a uniform, soft masa, cover it with plastic and let rest for a minimum of 30 minutes. (I like resting it for 1 to 2 hours.)
- Knead one more time for 2 more minutes. If your dough feels dry get your hands wet and knead again, repeat until your masa doesn't break.
- Preheat a nonstick pan until it's very hot. Meanwhile, divide your masa in testales (the little balls that will become the tortillas).
- Cut long sides of a large resealable plastic bag to create a long open rectangle. Open your tortilla press, lay the cut bag on top of the bottom circle and place a testal right in the middle. Fold the plastic bag to cover the testal then close the tortilla press, and PRESS. (Not too hard! Start by making thick tortillas and as you grow more confident, you can start getting them thinner.)
- This is what takes a little bit of practice: Really carefully peel off one side of the plastic bag. Lift the tortilla with the bag and place it in your other hand, then peel the plastic bag from the other side of the uncooked tortilla. Lay your "tortilla" in the pan. (If the pan is very hot, the tortilla shouldn’t stick to the pan.)
- This is my favorite part: Cook the first side for 30 seconds. You'll see that the edges start to change color. Turn the tortilla "sin miedo" and leave it on for 90 seconds until you see tiny bubbles forming.
- Give it one last turn and leave it alone for another minute. It should start rising, but if nothing happens, press slightly at the center of the tortilla. But if nothing happens, no worries—it will still taste delicious!