Yesterday morning, while studiously avoiding anything resembling housework by noodling around on the computer, I saw that Michelle, over at Thursday Night Smackdown, was having a “First Thursday Smackdown” event. The rules? Simply make something you’ve never made from your collection of cookbooks or magazines. Righto! I was up for a challenge. I broke out the newest member of my cookbook family, “The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion”.
The TNS event does not give restrictions on what you prepare, but my choices were limited to what was already in my fridge, freezer and pantry. As I have mentioned before, I live miles from nowhere. Last minute hops to the store are nearly out of the question. And unless I catch my husband before he’s past the last decent grocery store on the drive home I’m out of luck having him pick up ingredients. Exploring the fridge and pantry turned up about 1 pound of browned ground beef and some nice bacon refried beans from Sunday’s tacos, three perfect avocados (how did that happen?), some lettuce left from the weekend’s hamburgers, a couple nice (locally grown- no salmonella here…) tomatoes, Vidalia onions and various other yummy things. I thought tostadas would be nice and hoped King Arthur had a tortilla recipe. I was in luck! “Thin Cornmeal Tortillas” appeared on page 185. The recipe appears for free on the King Arthur website, so I’m okay with reposting it here.
“Thin Cornmeal Tortilla
The following is more of a classic tortilla in texture, wafer-thin and pliable. However, it falls off the classic track by including both flour and cornmeal, something a “real” tortilla would never do. We just happen to love the faint sweetness of cornmeal paired with flour’s soft texture — so there!
1 1/3 cups (5 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (2 3/4 ounces) yellow cornmeal
4 tablespoons (1 3/4 ounces) corn oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Manual Method: In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal and oil. Gradually mix in the water and salt. Knead briefly, just until the dough is smooth.Bread Machine Method: Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your machine, program for Manual or Dough, and press Start. Cancel the machine and remove the dough when it’s smooth, after about 5 minutes of kneading.Divide the dough into 10 pieces, weighing about 1 3/8 ounces each. Round the pieces into balls, flatten them slightly, and allow them to rest, covered, for at least 30 minutes. This resting period improves the texture of the dough by giving the flour time to absorb the water, and it also gives the gluten time to relax, making the tortillas easier to roll out.Preheat an ungreased cast iron griddle or heavy frying pan over medium heat. Working with one piece of dough at a time (keep the remaining dough balls covered), roll the balls out until they’re about 8 inches in diameter. Fry the tortillas in the ungreased pan for about 45 seconds on each side. (Or, if you have a tortilla baker — use it!) Stack tortillas on top of one another as you remove them from the pan, to keep them soft and pliable. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store, tightly wrapped, in a plastic bag at room temperature. For storing tortillas longer than a couple of days, freeze them. Yield: 10 tortillas.
Nutrition information per serving (1 tortilla, 36g): 130 cal, 6g fat, 2g protein, 17g complex carbohydrates, 1g dietary fiber, 110mg sodium, 42mg potassium, 4RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 1mg calcium, 33mg phosphorus.”
I was pretty excited about making these, because I had never made tortillas before. I know it’s shocking that a mainly Irish American mutt from northern Michigan has never made tortillas, but there you go. The dough came together easily. Really easily! The only place where I departed from the recipe was when I doubled it.
I rolled out and dry-fried each tortilla. Contrary to what you might think from looking at the picture below, I am not incapable of rolling out a nice circle, I just didn’t care last night. I had a lot of hungry people (myself included) waiting for these and decided to leave perfectionism for another evening.
They smelled great while frying; a little nutty and toasty. I deliberately cooked them beyond just done to the crunchy stage because I was making tostadas with them. I did leave a couple soft for the littlest son. I feel the need to point out that these are neither low carb nor are they low fat. In other words, they’re delicious!
They were topped with the bacony refried beans, garlicky beef, fresh guacamole and shredded lettuce. And hot sauce. I went with the Tabasco. My husband went with his favorite chili garlic sauce from the Asian market in an amount that destroys most people’s stomach linings. Without exaggeration I tell you he ate 2/3 of a cup of it on his tostadas. Sometimes I wonder whether he actually has tastebuds.
Here’s how the finished product looked seconds before I wolfed it down.
Final analysis: Would I make these again? Oh yes. These tortillas were so good and so easy to make that I don’t think I’ll be buying tortillas again. I will probably make them regularly in large enough quantities to keep handy for last minute snacks and breakfast burritos. The combination of cornmeal and all-purpose flour resulted in a non-traditional tortilla that was delicious. It had both the natural corn sweetness that you get from corn tortillas and the pliability that you get from flour tortillas. It was a big winner both for its ease of preparation and its taste! The only thing I’ll do differently next time is to triple the recipe instead of doubling it.
Rating: 14 Thumbs Up! It was unanimous.