I'm a native Texan with a passion for good food and Texas history. Tex-Mex is a way of life for me, and so is baking!
There is nothing more divine to me than a warm and fresh tortilla. When I am in San Antonio, it is one of the things I look forward to most – stepping foot in a Las Palapas or Casa Rio and being served with a tortilla warmer full of steamy, perfectly pillowy flat breads to go with my carne guisada, migas, or fajitas.
That I spent years buying in-store tortillas for home use kind of depresses me, now that I know how easy they are to make. You don’t need much: flour, lard, salt, water, and a food processor or your own two hands.
You might think I’m crazy to cook with lard, and before I’d read Robb Walsh’s Tex-Mex cookbook, I might have agreed with you.
Cooking with lard is actually much better for you than say, margarine. It has absolutely no trans fats, and stacks up gram for gram equally on total fat to vegetable oil. And Crisco? It’s got genetically modified soy bean oil in it. No thank you!
Besides all that, I am putting my hand on the Good Book here and telling you: You will only make a superior tortilla if you make it with lard.
I’m not asking you to cook with lard every day, and I’m certainly not asking you to make fresh tortillas every day of your life (though hey, if you want to join that party with me, it’s kinda fun) – but for the good of your tortillas, I am asking you to pick up that box near the butter that says LARD on it.
I promise, if I see you in the grocery store, I’ll give you a thumbs up. I will not judge. And if someone else starts giving you those judgy eyes? You send ’em my way. I’ll set ’em straight.
Robb Walsh tells me in his book that San Antonio has superior tortillas because of the hardness of the water there. San Antonio water comes from the Edwards Aquifer, and I’m here to tell you, it’s some of the best tasting water in the world. The Edwards Aquifer is an underground cavern made of limestone, filled with water. The limestone imparts minerals into the water that give it such a fresh perfect taste, and oh man.. I miss it now.
So if you ever make to San Antonio, you’ll have to taste the water and the tortillas, and tell me what you think. In the meantime, make some tortillas of your own, and throw some carne guisada or breakfast taco fixins in it. It’ll make your day, I promise.
3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour (the higher gluten your flour, the less of it you need. I used King Arthur AP flour, and needed just 3 1/2 cups)
1 tsp salt
1/4 c. lard
For puffier tortillas, add 1 tsp baking powder
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Place dry ingredients and lard in a food processor. Add 1 cup of water and pulse until dough comes together. It should be pliable but not sticky. If it is sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time and mix again until the dough is no longer sticky.
Remove food processor bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
Pinch dough into 8 even sized balls. Using either a tortilla press or rolling pin, roll each dough ball out until it’s 1/8″ to 1/4″ inch thick (to your preference). If using a tortilla press, I find flipping the dough over and pressing 2-3 times per side allows for the best results.
Heat a medium sized saute pan or a griddle if you have one. Make sure it’s screaming hot, and then add one tortilla to the pan or as many will fit on the griddle. Allow to cook 60-90 seconds, until bottom side is peppered with darker brown spots to a color you like, and then flip with tongs or a spatula.
Cook on the opposite side and then remove tortilla to a tortilla warmer or wrap in a clean and dry kitchen towel.
Enjoy with a pat of butter, or fill with your favorite taco filling.
If you’re feeling especially adventurous, instead of just griddling your tortillas for use in tacos, visit Bake at 350 – a blog started by my fellow Texan and dear friend, Bridget – where she teaches you how to french toast tortillas and FILL THEM WITH NUTELLA. Did I mention she’s a freakin’ genius?