I had spent the day on my feet, atop a scaffold. My hands were sore and blistered from lifting heavy concrete, slapping mortar and laying the block on an ever-growing wall. My back ached and my nose was sunburned.
We were all exhausted, worn out and happy that the day’s heat had finally given way to the cool of dusk. It was time to quit work and relax.
Despite the bruises, blisters and battered bodies, when the day’s labor was finished, the group of us gathered together to take the walk down the dusty dirt road to the main drag that made up Colonia Vicente Guerrero. We were looking for her cart.
There were many food vendors along the road at that time at night, but we had been warned to only visit that one, the one that was ‘safe.’ At her cart we knew we’d be served beef. At the others; well, let’s leave it at saying that there are many stray dogs and cats in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. One never knew.
When we found the cart we wanted, our orders were always the same; tacos. Savory, tender meat grilled over an open fire. Tomatoes, onions and cilantro put out in little bowls as condiments.
And tortillas. Each one made right there; a small piece of dough pulled from a large, covered batch in a bowl, patted into a ball and rolled out in front of us before being laid on a skillet to cook for a few seconds per side. Tender, tasty, perfect.
For me, the home made tortilla bar has always been set very high.
The trick to good flour tortillas is to start with a small amount of dough so you can roll them very thin. The thinner they are, the less chewy and tough they will be.
These are simple, but the addition of chilli flakes takes them to an amazing level of flavor. That’s what drew me to making them in the first place.
I ended up having a big issue with the ratio of flour to water. The recipe calls for 2 cups of flour to 1 cup of water, which made for a gloppy mess more suited to paper mâché than tortillas. I added flour until the consistency felt right and ended up using 3 3/4 cups of flour to one cup water. Somehow the directions were mis-typed in the magazine, so be aware of that if you make this recipe.
These tortillas are quite excellent. There is definitely a hint of heat throughout them, which works with just about anything. I used them today to make breakfast burritos. I included the Black Bean and Tomato Salsa as well as Pepper Jack cheese in Hubby’s and made mine with caramelized onions, mushrooms and a combination of Cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. He really liked all the extra heat while I was please with just having the touch the tortilla gave my otherwise very mild breakfast.
I may not lay courses of concrete block anymore, shovel sand or do any of the other more manual work I did when I spent time in Mexico, but I do make my own tortillas as a result of my time there. Adding chillis to the recipe is an excellent idea.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
It’s essential to use 3 3/4 cups of flour for this recipe.
- 2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
- 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
- 1½ tablespoon (25g) cold butter, chopped
- 1 cup (250ml) hot water
- Place the flour, salt and chilli in a bowl and mix well to combine. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, rub the flour until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the water and, using a butter knife, mix until the dough comes together. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.
- heat a non-stick frying pan or char-grill pan over high heat. Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces and roll each piece out to a 20cm (8-inch) round. Cook tortillas for 30-60 seconds on each side or until lightly browned.
- Stack the tortillas and cover with a tea towel to keep warm until ready to serve. Makes 15.
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