Say “tortilla” and I’m immediately transported back to my childhood where I’m standing in front of Chevy’s mesmerizing tortilla machine. The cook stuck a dough ball in one end, and the machine pressed it into a flat disc, which then cooked as it spiraled down a conveyer belt. Two minutes later, it emerged from the other end in a warm, perfect tortilla. As a tiny girl, the workers found me cute enough to give me a dough ball to play with every time I wandered away from the table to watch the machine. Chevy’s was my favorite restaurant growing up because of those dough balls.
Their tortillas had a distinct taste, something I can’t quite put my finger on, but I haven’t found a tortilla to match their flavor anywhere. I’ve sampled a variety of different brands from multiple grocery stores, including some that were supposedly handmade, yet none even came close.
So when I decided to make tortillas for “T,” I expected another mediocre result, nothing better than what the supermarkets carry. I mixed the dough entirely with my hands, resulting in dough sticking to my fingers like glue and getting jammed underneath all of my nails. The twelve dough balls were rather small, which was somewhat disheartening, but I was already this far, wasn’t I?
I realized that my New Year’s resolution for 2011 should have been bulking up my biceps. Those dough balls were so hard to roll out thin enough!
I put all my weight into pushing that rolling pin across the dough, but even so, I still needed to pick up the tortillas and stretch them by hand. Twenty minutes later, I had a dozen slightly thin, really misshapen tortillas to cook.
After letting the skillet heat up, I laid the first one down, which only took about 30 seconds to start bubbling. I grabbed it with two fingers and quickly flipped it over, blowing on my fingers once the tortilla landed. Another half minute later, I turned it out onto a plate. One down, eleven to go.
I’m proud to report that I perfected my tortilla techniques while cooking the rest. No burned fingers, and perfectly browned sides on every tortilla. As for the taste? A perfect match for Chevy’s!
taken from this Flour Tortillas recipe
makes 12 (6 to 8-inch) tortillas
I found that stretching the tortillas while holding them over the hot pan made it easier to get them thinner. It may be necessary to clean excess flour from the pan partway through.
2 c. flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp shortening
¾ c. water
- Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder together. Add shortening and work into flour with fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the water and stir until it forms a sticky dough.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Kneed for a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Shape into 12 evenly sized balls.
- Roll dough balls out to ⅛” thick one at a time using a well-floured rolling pin. (Stretch using hands if necessary!)
- Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat. Do not grease! Lay one tortilla in the pan and let cook for 30-60 seconds. Once bubbles begin to form, flip the tortilla over and cook for another 30-60 seconds. Turn out onto a plate, and repeat with the remaining tortillas. Serve warm.