Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Part 4 of Mexican (Tortillas) Cuisine

One of the main staples in Mexican cuisine seems to be the "Tortilla" and it comes in both corn and flour styles.  Surprisingly, those two styles come in many different forms and sizes.  It's hard to say which is more used.  Each has a pretty defined use.  Although they can be interchangeable in many applications.  But people do have their favorites.  I prefer flour tortillas over the corn ones.  It's just a case of personal preference in taste.

I traveled through much of western Mexico in the winter of 1974-1975.  Every small village had a tortilla factory of some size.  People would stand in line waiting for them to open their doors and start selling the tortillas each day.  You could buy both styles but they came by the kilo and were still warm.  They didn't have packaged tortillas as most of us find today.  You just bought enough to get you through that day.  It just couldn't be beat to have fresh tortillas every day.  It was like a piece of heaven.

The two different forms are soft and hard.  The soft ones are more versatile in use.  They can be held in the hand (small ones) for use with tacos or fajitas.  Larger ones are great for use in making burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas and quesadillas for example.  The hard ones are deep fried (mostly) and come in flat rounds, u-shaped taco shells and as chips of different shapes.

Making your own can be fun.  The other nice piece of making your own is the freshness.  It is really not that difficult to do either.  But it does take practice.  Your homemade ones will probably taste different from the packaged ones you would normally buy too.  It's also best to have some of the equipment used in making tortillas.  Although you really don't need special equipment, it makes the process easier and quicker.

The main piece to get is a "Tortilla Press" and that alone increases production tremendously.  Another piece of equipment would be the "Comal" which is a circular griddle traditionally used in Mexico over an open fire.  A "Tortilla Warmer" would be nice too.  Typically in the USA, you find ones for handling 6 inch tortillas.  But larger ones can be found.

Corn tortillas can be as simple as just corn flour (masa harina), salt and warm water.  You can add ingredients to this basic recipe which can give you different taste, texture and feel.  The same holds true of the flour tortillas.  As you see the two recipes this week, you'll notice in the notes what I mean.

The making of tortillas takes practice as I mentioned before.  Humidity and ingredient amounts can cause problems.  You'll just have to do some trial and error to become very good at making tortillas.  But even the ones that aren't perfect, still make it worth trying.

Have fun and involve others as you make them.  The "Flour Tortillas" recipe is tomorrow.  Thursday's recipe is the "Corn Tortillas" one.  "Happy Cooking" and please pass on my link to other family and friends.

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