The first time I tasted homemade tortillas, I was about 13 years old, and a new resident of rural Arizona.
The desert has it’s own dusty brand of prettiness. It was initially hard to spot, coming from the temperate rainforest environment of the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t what I was used to, so it seemed quite harsh and alien, as if we’d moved to the moon.
Some of the great things about being a kid, are the naturally high level of creativity and resilience. It wasn’t long before I found something to love about the area, by exploring it through my other senses. My taste buds were sending rave reviews, even if my eyes were less than thrilled by the scenery.
The Mexican food was a completely new and fabulous experience, especially the HOT salsa that somehow remained in the bowls without burning a hole through to the floor. (To this day, I’ve never lost my attraction to everything habanero or ghost peppery). The handmade tortillas were light years beyond anything I’d had.
Tortillas seem such a simple thing, but somehow taste amazingly better than the sum of their ingredients imply.
My first attempt at tortillas was passable. I searched for a good recipe to start with, but repeatedly found lard as an ingredient. Even the saying the word ‘lard’ makes my shoulders creep up toward my ears. I needed a solid fat substitution, so I decided to bring out my jar of coconut oil, hoping that it wouldn’t add too much coconut flavor to the tortillas. Wishful thinking.
In the next batch, I switched to butter, and added a touch of light cream. SCORE! If lard scares you, then this is the tortilla recipe you need!
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter
¼ cup light cream
½ cup unsweetened almond milk (or plain old milk)
In a small pan, heat the almond milk and light cream over low to warm it. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, and cut in the butter. Add the milk and stir it around until dough forms. Knead it for about 2-3 minutes.
Cover the dough with a towel and let it rest while you heat up a large cast iron skilled or regular pan over medium-high heat.
Divide the dough into 8 balls.
Roll each out as thin as you can, as they will puff up in the pan when you cook them. Cook about 30-45 seconds per side.
I had a Goldilocks moment while trying to find a clean spatula to flip these.
You can cover the cooked tortillas to keep them warm if you plan to eat them right away. If you want to freeze or refrigerate them, let them cool on a rack first.
Making your own tortillas is so fast and easy, I don’t think I will be buying them from the store ever again.