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Homemade Corn Tortillas

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Every week, a DIY expert spares us a trip to the grocery store and shows us how to make small batches of great foods at home.

This week, Kelsey Brown of Happyolks shows us a gadget-free way to make our own delicious corn tortillas at home.


The inspiration to make my own tortillas comes from my time studying in Nicaragua in 2010. I lived with a family in a small corrugated tin hut and watched my host mother prepare tortillas every morning (at 4:00AM) over a Lorena, or block style wood burning stove. She dried her own corn and ground it in stone bowls before creating the paste with water and salt. She didn't have a press, and I remember being tasked with pressing them flat with my hands.

Of course, it is my fundamental kitchen belief that if it comes from a package, it's probably not going to taste like the real deal. Masa harina is cheap -- the investment is your time. Time well spent, in my opinion, creating new memories and sparing your belly from all the nasty additives and preservatives you'll find in the store-bought variety.

This technique for press-less tortillas at home is, in reality, no creative genius. It occured to me, after letting my dough rest for an hour, that most logical folk would go about figuring out how to flatten their tortillas before making a mess of the kitchen.

No tortilla press? Eh, no biggie. I don't collect kitchen gadgets because more often I'd rather spend my money on good coffee beans or gogi berries (dang, they're expensive!), but I think it would be neat to have one of these around. Of course, then you miss out on the fun of using casserole dishes and making noises like the Williams sisters while you prepare your dinner. Okay, I'm being dramatic. But the grunts make them taste better, right?

Homemade Corn Tortillas
Makes 8-12 tortillas, depending on how big you make them

2 cups masa harina
1 1/4 cup hot water
pinch of salt

Dissolve salt into the measured glass of warm water. Pour over the bowl of masa harina slowly, stirring as you go. Mix until combined; smooth but not sticky. Knead/press into a ball. Cover, and let rest for as long as you can wait -- 30 min-2hrs.

Lay out a few (2-3) sheets of parchment paper and fetch a nifty casserole dish or Pyrex to help you press out the dough.

Pinch off a golf-ball sized chunk of dough and roll into a smooth ball. Set between two pieces of parchment and start to flatten a bit with your hand. Continue with hands, or for even edges, grab your casserole or Pyrex dish and put your weight into it over the sheets of parchment and the ball. Remove dish, peel back parchment, and voilà.

Cook for two minutes on each side in an non-greased frying pan (cast iron is best). Set aside and begin to stack ‘em up.

Save and print the recipe here.

Kelsey will be answering questions about tortillas on the Hotline for those of you who want to take on this project at home. For the quickest response, go to her recipe and ask a question from there -- we'll email her your question right away!

On your next trip to the grocery store, skip those enticing bags of potato chips, and pick up a big old sack of potatoes instead. And be sure to stay tuned for next week, when Lara Ferroni will show us how to make crispy, salty potato chips right at home.

Tags: tortilla, corn tortilla, masa harina, DIY, homemade, Small Batch, Kelsey Brown, Happyolks, Mexican, tacos, how-to & diy

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