First, a huge happy 5 months to you, Big Guy!
Secondly, I have tortillas on my mind. I’ve given handmade corn tortillas a go several times. Usually this ends in a frustrating mess and me just wanting a margarita. I’m persistent, I guess; I keep trying.
What I love are blue corn tortillas. Blue corn was originally developed by the Hopi. It is routinely found in northern Mexico and southwestern US. We spent some time in New Mexico, and I understand blue corn to be a staple in New Mexican cuisine-which, yes, does exist, is quite good, and puts Tex-Mex to shame. Blue corn is also possibly a bit superior to yellow or white corn in that it has about 20% more protein and a lower glycemic index. Not to mention, it just tastes better.
Each time I try my hand at making corn tortillas, I do a “Blue Corn Tortilla Recipe” Internet search. It’s a pretty quick search because there are exactly two recipes online. Neither of those two really worked for me, so now there are three.
What I’ve found that works is the technique to form the tortilla is almost as, if not more, important than the recipe itself. So pay careful attention when it comes to forming the tortillas.
- 1 1/2 c blue corn masa harina (flour)
- 1 t salt
- 1/2 t nutmeg
- 1 1/2 c hot water
Start with equal parts blue corn masa harina and very hot, even boiling, water. Don’t mix all of the water in, just have that amount ready in case it’s really dry out or something and you need it. I start with something like 1.5 or 2 cups blue corn masa which I grind myself in my Vitamix blender. I grew the corn I used in this recipe, otherwise I’d probably have had to order blue corn online because it’s not something I’ve seen much in stores.
In a large bowl, add salt and nutmeg to the blue corn flour. Stirring continuously, add just enough water to get flour to hold together. Do be careful not to add too much water or else you’ll need to add more flour or, if you’re out of flour altogether, need to perform the alternative method for cooking, see *** below. The dough should just hold together, almost the consistency of pasty concrete. Yum.
So mix in hot water, and then allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.
When you’re ready to form the tortillas take a small mount (1/3 cup or so) in your hand and form a ball. Between two clean gallon Ziploc bags, place your dough and then smash this between two cutting boards or something similarly flat.
So its: cutting board, Ziploc, tortilla, Ziploc, cutting board, then smash. If you smash it too much, you’ll have a hard time with the next step. We aren’t making crepes, right? Just leave a little thickness to your tortilla, somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.
Now, you need to heat a heavy pan. I prefer cast-iron. It shouldn’t need oil, but don’t lose hope if your first tortilla sticks a little. Again, you shouldn’t need oil. Remember, these are not fried. Be patient.
With a hot pan ready, keep a hold of your two Ziplocs with the precious tortilla between. Still holding on to both bags, peel one Ziploc from the tortilla, then put the tortilla back on it. I know. Just do it. Then peel the other bag off the other side. At this point, you can sort of hot potato the ready-for-the-hot-pan-but-still-cool tortilla back and forth. Something about not handling the tortilla much with my bare hands seems to work. Only place the tortilla in your hand right as you’re ready to throw it on the heat. You don’t really want melted Ziploc, so do use your hand to quickly slap the tortilla down. Cook for about a minute on each side, over medium heat.
***If you’ve gotten the tortillas too wet and they just absolutely will not come off of your Ziploc, no, not all hope is lost. You can do sort of a pancake version. With a spoon, spoon some batter onto the hot pan. You’ll have to quickly spread it around with the back of the spoon. Like you’re spreading frosting on hot cake; it will want to come off of the pan and not hold together. Work quickly and you’ll; get a nice tortilla. But, again, this should not be a problem if you are careful not to add too much water in the first place.
I hope that you give blue corn tortillas a try. If this scares you, you might start with white corn masa harina. It’s more forgiving and very readily available in the baking section of just about any supermarket.
At some point, be brave and try to get a little Hopi. You’ll love it!
Just a little FYI: I have had blue corn tortillas before some of my best runs. I might need to make this a staple pre-race meal. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.