Friday, 4 March 2011

I Didn't Have Any Milk, So I Used Butter

This past October, I wrote up a recipe for tortillas which called for the addition of warm milk. However, with no milk in the fridge and quite a few recipes out there calling for lard, I decided to re-write my recipe so I could use butter instead. In contrast to October's recipe, this March one yielded a more pliable dough and a richer tortilla. (I mean, I did use butter...)

For 8, 6" tortillas, sift into a bowl 1 c all-purpose flour and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Using a spoon, stir in 1/2 c warm water (I microwaved a glass of water for about 40 sec; use a spoon to stir, otherwise you'll burn your fingertips!). When it's all nice and incorporated, you'll get a dough which looks something like the one above; after you stop stirring, the dough will show signs of collapsing/resting. Stir in some cooled, melted unsalted butter until the dough comes together as one doughy mass. Knead the dough for about three minutes until it feels like elastic playdough and it barely sticks to your hand.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough as thinly as you can get it. You know the dough is thin in one of two ways: 1) the dough naturally stretches out between your fingers as shown in the left photo above; 2) you can see the rolling surface through the dough as shown in the right photo above. Cook the tortilla on a pan that's been pre-heated on medium heat, and keep the heat going for the entire process. When you get into the groove of cooking these, you'll find that the first side is done cooking by the time you roll out the next ball of dough. Flip the tortilla in the pan over, walk back to your tortilla surface, pick it up and get back to the stove; by the time you get back, the other side of the tortilla should be cooked. Each tortilla in total should take less than a minute to cook. You'll also know when the tortilla's ready to be flipped when it starts to show signs of bubbles/air pockets; the other side would need to be cooked for about 10 sec.

As for the filling for these, I went with chicken. For enough filling for all eight tortillas, you'll need a chicken breast or two that will eventually yield about 1.5 c shredded chicken. [A preface: the chicken breast I used was frozen, so I started to defrost it on lo-med in a lidded pot with water for about five minutes.] In a pot, cover the chicken with enough water plus about an extra 1/2" tall amount of water. Add 1 tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper and continue to cook the chicken in the pot (with the lid on) for about 20-25 min, flipping it every 5 min or so. After the chicken is cooked, transfer the chicken to a plate, shred it with the aid of two forks and finish this all off with 1/2 tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper. Now, into a skillet, heat up on medium heat a few tsp olive oil. Meanwhile, dice half of a medium onion and then toss it into the olive oil-coated pan. As the onions are beginning to brown (and you can really smell the onions), add the shredded chicken and 1 tbsp taco seasoning; increase the heat to med-high. Dilute/deglaze the pan with 1/2 c additional water. Sprinkle in a tsp all-purpose flour and cook everything together until most of the water has evaporated. At that point, it's time to assemble the tortillas!

Warm up the tortilla itself if necessary in a separate dry skillet. Pile on some chicken and top with a Mexican cheese blend (or whatever cheese you have available) and enjoy the simplicity and homemade identity of these tortillas! For more photos, click here.

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