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How do you make a flexible corn tortilla?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
:) Hi!

I'm a newbie. We have the heavy tortilla press and
the ingredients to make the corn tortilla. But every
time we make them, they turn out thick, doughy,
crumbly and not thin and crispy. We just want a corn
tortilla that will bend while we are cooking it so it
will become a nice crispy taco shell for our taco
meat etc. stuffings.

Thank you for your info,

post #2 of 19
Hate to say it but you need more fat/lard in the mix. This is one of the reasons that low-fat tortillas are so dry. The corn tortillas I have made in the past had a high ratio of fat to cornmeal and cornflour(extra-fine cornmeal). Been a long time tho so I could have forgotten something.
post #3 of 19
That and press harder so that they're thin. Then you'll have to fry them to make them crispy. Make sure you've got the appropriate shape to cool them on.

I love tortillas and have a press too. It takes a lot to squeeze the tortillas down enough for my liking. Have even thought about sending them through the pasta roller instead.
post #4 of 19

Don't know what recipe you're using but it helps a great deal if you can get fresh ground masa. You missed your chance to chat with Rick Bayless a respected chef of Mexican cuisine.

Try this recipe for corn tortillas.
post #5 of 19
good news.
I think you probably kno3w this but it's almost impossible to roll a corn tortilla without first dipping it in hot oil. You can even steam them for rolling
post #6 of 19
Note that the word "oil" doesn't appear in this recommendation. You can try oil, then make a batch using "fat". You've got to experience the difference to fully understand it.
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My failures in life are few. The most blatant of these is my attempts at retirement. I've studied the process carefully but cannot begin to understand how it is done.
post #7 of 19
Well since you are going to oil fry them anyway to wrap your taco filling (I use "taco filling" because I am not sure what you like) why not press them out and put them straight into the hot oil after a few seconds in the oil grab one side and flip then after a few more seconds fold it and set it aside to cool.

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“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
post #8 of 19
Yep, Rick could have helped him a lot.

Rgds Rook
post #9 of 19
Fresh masa sure makes a nice tortilla. I can buy it here in Milwaukee at a Mexican grocery in a plastic bag about the size of a bowling ball. Lots of fun stuff can be made with fresh masa.

Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen is one of my favorite cookbooks. I love how it is set up so you can build off of the basic sauces, salsas, etc. I'm going to have to go through that chat he did here before I was amember. My Wife and I love the Frontera Grill. When we go to Chicago we get there early and order the Chile Rellenos as an appetizer and split it. That and tapas at Cafe Iberico and I'm one happy man.


I like muskies, but I always put them back.
post #10 of 19
I bought a big bag of masa harina in the local chain supermarket when I needed to demonstrate making them for my sixth graders. There is no fat in the dough, just the masa and some water. I rolled the dough into small balls and refrigerated them at home so I wouldn't have to take time during the class period. I let them warm up a bit before I patted them by hand and grilled them in a nonstick electric skillet. They were tasty! You'd need roll them thin (as Free Rider said), then fry them in enough oil to cover (or deep fry), then bend them to shape for tacos before they cool.

By the way, the kids loved them! I had a bottle of Cholula hot sauce on hand for a little seasoning....
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post #11 of 19
Maybe it was only the Flour tort and tamale dough mixtures that we added lard to but I'm almost positive we also used the lard for Corn torts too. In a couple of my kitchens I would let a couple guy's make "Amigo Food" and they also used the lard to make the torts.

The only time we would coat them in or even use oil was if we were making enchiladas or frying. This method ensured that the tort wouldn't dry out and crack or absorb too much excess moisture and fall apart before use. The frying part is almost self explanitory.:D

Then again like I said earlier it's been a long time for me darned near close to 22years. That last brain cell I've saved has more rust on it plus I've done allot more cooking since then. You could try and also not mix the dough for too long. I seem to remember that the mixing process works in reverse for Masa de Maize versus regular bread dough.
post #12 of 19
I have the pleasure of eating home cooked Tex-Mex and Mexican everyday.
The tortilla is our bread. Anna usually makes the dough in the morning. It's: just corn flour like Mezz says and water. The water being critical. There is nothing similar in the grocery store or restaurant because they are not fresh.
Goodnews, make sure you are using a good corn flour, just fyi this is nothing like cornmeal or finely ground cornmeal.
post #13 of 19

my kind of topic!

I have been away for a while, but glad to hear that tortillas are still being discussed.:lips:

Although I specialize more in flour tortillas, here are some other things to try:

1) for a quick corn tortilla masa (thus eliminating the need to drive to specialty markets for fresh quality masa) just buy a bag of Maseca--most grocery stores have this in their mexican food section or flour section. All you do is add water to make a very tasty corn masa. Depending on your climate experiment with water amounts to give you a softer masa. I add more water than called for--I live in the desert.

2) yes, you can press harder on your tortilla press to get a thinner tortilla. But give this a try too: Generally, wax paper is placed on the top and bottom of the masa ball before pressing it. After you press the masa flat, you now have a tortilla sandwiched by two pieces of wax paper, correct? Slide that sandwich onto the counter and roll it out even flatter with a rolling pin--the wax paper prevents the tortilla from sticking or splitting, thus giving you a flatter AND intact tortilla.

3) How are you frying your tortillas? this can make a big difference in how well the taco shell holds up. Here is how to make a little more traditional crispy taco: in a cast iron skillet, heat up some oil/crisco/lard (may 1/8 to 1/4 inch on the bottom of the pan) to somewhere like 350-375 degrees (maybe try a lower temperature until you get quick at this). Slide your tortilla into the hot oil and wait a few moments. Even though your tortilla is brittle before being fried, this initial flat frying should soften it considerably. After a few moments, with a spatula, gently try to fold the tortilla in half. If it quickly unfolds, give it a few more moments in the oil and try again.

Traditionally, the meat is placed on the tortilla while it is being fried and the weight of the meat will help keep the tortilla in the oil. When you fold half the tortilla over the meat, hold it in place with a spatula until it holds its own taco shape. Flip the entire taco over to crisp up the other side, and you are done. Add the chesse right after it comes off the pan so that it melts thoroughly. These will be a little more oily than I think most people are used to, but again, this is the more traditional style.

Just for ease's sake, there is no shame in buying a package of good corn tortillas and frying these up to make your tacos. Most mexican families do this themselves. Just make sure they are pretty decent tortillas.
post #14 of 19

and a few other tips...

Because of this message thread, and since I hadn't done it for a few months, I went out yesterday and bought some masa to try out the tortillas.

With the plain masa (not masa preparada used for tamales), there is nothing you need to be adding to it...no salt, no lard. Just take that masa, roll it into a ball and press it. And for thinner tortillas, use my tip in my last post.

I am not sure what some of the other posters meant by adding lard and/or using corn meal....they may have been referring to the pseudo-type of taco shells found in fast food joints (the bright yellowish perfectly formed shells). If that is the kind of shells you are wanting to make, I can only say "don't do it!" I'm sorry, but those fast food shells are a heresy to me:p

But if you are insistent on that kind of shell, just buy them from the grocery store. It will likely be extremely difficult to produce from your home a taco shell that is similar to fast food joints'.

Lastly, if your idea is to produce premade taco shells so that people can fill it with their own ingredients (taco bar style), then you can 1) cook the shell with the meat already in it (as mentioned in my last post) and just let your guests fill in their toppings or 2) as you fold your tortilla while it is frying, play with the tortilla so that the fold doesn't become too sharp (and thus brittle).
post #15 of 19
Stewey, what do you consider the best brand of tortillas? I've tried a number and hate them all, resorting to Maseca and fat tortillas (not enough strength to squash the press down enough) to get some satisfaction.
post #16 of 19
I wish I had an exact answer for you. Sorry, but it totally depends on where you live. There are many different brands but you can usually find some sort of generic package of corn tortillas. They come in a clear plastic two pound bag with (I think) a green and white emblem on the package.

If you are fortunate enough to live in or near a large city, chance are there will be a number of large mexican grocery stores (not just a small tienda). Those larger gorcery stores may have a tortilleria where they make their own tortillas. The corn tortillas will be warm and mildly flexible.

If not, most major grocery stores (Vons, Albertsons, Smiths) will have those generic two pound packages. These will suffice. You can't bend them easily right from the package. But once you place them flat into the hot oil, then they will start to be bendable. Just keep attempting to gently bend them with a fork/tongs while they are sitting in the oil and once you are able to fold it into that half-moon taco shape, hold it in this shape for a few moments to let the crispiness form and flip it to crisp the other side.

Working with the hot oil will take some practice, but if you have a good digital thermometer, you can quickly adjust the heat as needed (figure 325-370 degrees).
post #17 of 19
I live rather near you, Stewie, which is why I asked. I'm not the one who asked the original, flexible tortilla question and have no desire to fry the tortillas in oil. I heat them up quickly as I learned from some folks from Queretaro.

I don't like the quality of Alberton's tortillas. I think Tía Rosa has come closest to what I like, but I can't remember if that's the brand.
post #18 of 19
The ones out here that you can usually find at the Von's I shop at is Guerrero brand. They aren't anything special, just a plain old corn tortilla--good flavor. Not very flexible strait from the bag but add heat or steam and they will loosen right up.

When I can help it, I prefer any of the brands that are made locally at any of the tortillerias--and you can find their tortillas in mexican stores and sometimes even in the chain grocery stores. Because they are fresh, they are really soft and flexible right right out of the bag and are usually still warm and you can see condensation inside the bag still. But give them a day, and they will be just as brittle as the grocery store brands.

If you can find some in your grocery store, they will generally be fine once you add some sore of heat to them.

Oh, in case I wasn't clear, I am only referring to corn tortillas. For flour tortillas, I make my own. I cannot stand the flour tortillas from the store with MAYBE only one brand being acceptable in a pinch. But I have to be really really desperate and I will usually go without flour tortillas rather than buy some.

Wow...I sound like a tortilla snob. Sorry guys.:lol:
post #19 of 19
I'm a tortilla snob too. I've seen Guerrero, but have never tried it. I'll give it a try next time I'm in a Food City. I assume they have them.
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