Is the grocery store out of tortillas, again? If you find yourself staring at an empty shelf where tortillas used to be, don’t stress. You can actually make this pantry staple with a few easy steps, and we spoke to a chef on how to make tortillas at home.
Chef Thomas Ortega of the Parq Restaurant Group, which represents four of his restaurants in Los Angeles—Amor y Tacos, Playa Amor, Ortega120, and Amorcito—shared with us a few of his tips on how to make the best flour and corn tortillas with items you already have. Here’s what he had to say.
To make flour tortillas
The secret ingredient for Chef Ortega’s tortillas? Shortening!
“For flour tortillas at home it’s best to use shortening, or butter if you don’t want to or can’t find shortening,” says Chef Ortega. “If you want to be super [original] use lard if you can find some.”
To make these tortillas, mix together 2 cups of flour with 1/4 cup (2 oz.) of butter or lard. Chef Ortega also says you can substitute olive oil or avocado oil if that’s all that you have in the house.
To mix, put the two ingredients in a food processor or electric stand mixer and mix until the ingredients come together. “Don’t over mix,” Chef Ortega says. “If you don’t have either of these machines, a good ol’ bowl and your hands will work (crumble the flour and lard, butter or shortening with your fingers until resembling a bunch of little crumbs then add the rest of ingredients). When your dough is mixed it will be sticky so when you remove from the bowl add flour to [a counter] surface. Portion as many ping pong size balls as possible and let [the dough] rest on a sheet pan for 30 minutes.”
Chef Ortega sometimes adds a pinch of sugar into the dough for taste, but doesn’t add too much or it won’t balance well. Want a healthier tortilla? Try substituting half wheat flour into the recipe.
RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.
To make corn tortillas
To make corn tortillas, mixing together masa harina, water, and salt will create an authentic corn tortilla dough. “You can also mix this dough with a food processor or kitchen aid mixer or by hand. When this dough is ready it will not be sticky but you may need to keep adding sprinkles of water because it takes more time for corn flour to absorb water opposed to regular flour. Also make sure you always add enough salt to your dough as this will make or break the flavor of your tortilla.”
Portion out the corn tortilla dough in the same way as the flour tortilla dough—into ping pong size balls and let the dough rest on a sheet pan for 30 minutes.
How to shape tortillas
“Most people probably don’t have a tortilla press at home,” says Chef Ortega, “[Instead] you can just use a flat countertop place a 8 to 10-inch cut square piece of zip lock bag or trash bag on the counter then place a ping pong size ball of [tortilla dough] then place another 8-10 inch cut square piece of zip lock bag or trash bag material over the [tortilla]. Now if you have a glass dish or heavy large pot with a flat bottom surface, use this to smash the ball to a thin tortilla. Repeat the process.”
How to cook tortillas
Cooking tortillas is even easier than cooking a stack of pancakes! Heat up a griddle or a flat pan over medium heat. Add the tortillas to the pan and cook on each side for 1 to 2 minutes, or the edges and the bottom of the tortilla start to look and feel dry.
How to reheat homemade tortillas
“When reheating corn tortillas the next day dip them in water or oil right before reheating,” says Chef Ortega. “Also to keep corn warm and to keep them from drying out after cooking them, wrap them in a kitchen towel that has been run under hot water and all water squeezed out.”
Now that you have delicious homemade tortillas thanks to Chef Ortega’s tips, here are 12 healthy taco recipes you can serve them with!