Recently, I've taken to frying my own taco shells out of flour tortillas. They get crisp and airy and hold together better than the store-bought corn kind. I mean, I love taco shells in every way, but it seemed like an easy and delicious way to put a little extra love and effort into a simple, thrown-together, last-minute dinner. And they're a big hit.
So wouldn't it be great, I thought, if I could make my very own tortillas? I'd seen a couple recipes, and they looked quick and easy. I was right about the easy part, but not so right about the quick part. They're slightly time consuming because you can only cook them one or two at a time.
First, mix together four cups of flour and one and a quarter teaspoons of salt in a big bowl.
Add six tablespoons of shortening and use forks or a pastry cutter to work it into the flour. There's so much flour in the bowl that you'll have a hard time telling when you've reduced it to coarse meal sized chunks, but do your best.
Bring a couple cups of water to a boil and slowly add to the flour until the dough starts to come together. Use a wooden spoon at first, but finish with your hands. BE CAREFUL! The water will make the dough quite warm.
Toss the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until the dough comes together, no more than 5 minutes.
Shape into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 30 minutes. The dough won't rise because there's no yeast in it. It will, however, create some condensation because it's still warm, so don't worry when you go to unwrap your dough and it's wet.
Using a knife or a dough scraper or whatever, cut your dough in half.
Cut each half into thirds...
And each third into three more pieces.
Shape them into balls, press flat, and roll them out. THIN, people! As thin as you can possibly make them. THIN like your life depends on it. Because I have almost zero counter space in my kitchen, it only worked for me to roll them out one at a time. Also, mine never really turned out round. Mostly they're shaped kind of like Brazil, with a couple more like Texas. Near the end they started turning sort or square. Whatever. Don't worry about shape. It's not all that important, unless you're having Martha Stewart over for Fajita Night.
So, heat a cast iron skillet or a griddle over medium heat. I ended up over medium low because the tortillas were burning. Toss on a tortilla and cook for about 20 seconds per side. I used a fork and my fingers to flip them. Some of mine bubbled or puffed up, some didn't. It's sort of hard to know exactly when to flip, so I counted to 20 and flipped regardless. If I had to flip them more than once to make sure they were all cooked, I did. No big deal.
Please note: These are two different tortillas. #1 just went into the pan, #2 has been flipped. The shape doesn't change that much when they cook.
Remove the tortilla to a cooling rack, and let them cool completely before you stack them. Store them wrapped in paper towels in a plastic bag in the fridge, or freeze them. Because of the inconsistency in the shape, this particular batch isn't really good for much besides an open-face quesadilla (which is exactly what I was making them for, anyway!). Maybe you'll have better luck. Enjoy!
Makes 18 tortillas
Takes about two hours, less if you're able to cook more than one at a time.