Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Week 38 - Mexican

We love Mexican food, so the hardest part about the Week 38 Mexican theme was figuring out what to make. My original plan was to make gorditas and frijoles de la olla, but that would have required visits to a couple different grocery stores and I just wasn't really in the mood. Instead, I decided to make tacos for Taco Tuesday with the soy chorizo we already had in the fridge. Soy chorizo tacos were nothing new, but to step it up for the challenge, I decided to finally try to make tortillas from scratch.

We've had a bag of masa harina in the pantry for a long time, ever since I bought it for some chili recipe who knows how long ago. I had always planned to make pupusas, tortillas, and more with the masa harina, but just never got around to it. I worried a bit that it had gone bad sitting in the pantry, but luckily it still seemed to be okay.

I followed the directions from The Kitchn on making homemade tortillas, which were pretty similar to the ones on the masa package. The first step was mixing the masa harina (I used 1 cup) with some salt, and then hot water (I used 3/4 cup). After kneading it all together, it was supposed to be soft and springy. With those ratios, I didn't have to adjust by adding any extra water or masa. It seemed to be just right. The hardest part was the kneading to begin with since the hot water was really hot (from our hot water heater), and I kept burning my fingertips. Oops.

After the dough is done, you're supposed to cover it and leave it for 30 minutes. So far, so good. The next step was to roll the dough into balls about the size of ping pong balls. Apparently I don't know what size ping pong balls are, because some of these were pretty small and they did not roll out to be very big tortillas at all. Looking at the step by step photos now from The Kitchn, I think theirs were much bigger. Next time. The rolling into a ball step was easy though.

Now for the hardest part - rolling out the tortillas. We didn't have a press or a rolling pin, so I was basically using my hands (and was too lazy to get a can of beans to use). (Reminded me a bit of rolling out the dough for the chocolate vegetable tarts, and no, we still hadn't gotten a rolling pin despite thinking then that we should.) The directions said it would be trickier to get them perfectly round without a press, but I didn't really care if they were round. I guess that's a good thing since most of them turned out looking like a shape I can only describe as Iceland.

A cooked the tortillas in a nonstick skillet (a couple of minutes per side) while I continued making the taco filling and rolling out (or more accurately, flattening) the remaining tortillas. As they finished, we put them on a plate under a wet towel to let them steam. They really didn't look like tortillas with all of their odd shapes.

The taco filling itself was pretty simple - 1 chopped onion, 1 package of Trader Joe's soy chorizo, and 1 can of Rotel. (As an aside, why do they sell cases of Rotel at Costco in North Carolina but not here?! We bought it there and drove it home during our road trip.) We've made this before without the Rotel, and sometimes with a potato added, and it's good every time. The soy chorizo has a pretty strong flavor, which A thought was muted a bit with the Rotel mixed in, but the Rotel added a lot of flavor of its own and also some spice from the chiles. We liked the filling a lot.

The tortillas were pretty small and didn't fit a whole lot of stuff. A's biggest issue with them was that they didn't really fold around the fillings like a tortilla should. I thought the tortillas sort of curled around the filling, but they also split apart more easily than they should have. They weren't great tortillas, but I guess they were okay for a first try. If I'm going to do this more, I think I'm going to need to get a rolling pin. So while they weren't a hugely successful experiment, they weren't a complete failure either, since they worked for what they needed to, they tasted fine, and for the most part, they didn't completely fall apart. I'm glad the challenge pushed me out of my comfort zone to at least try to do this, and hopefully next time will be better!

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