I had tried homemade tortillas a couple of weeks ago, just to find out that online-recipes are to be used at one’s own peril. There are thousands of recipes for the same type of thing, most of which just won’t work.
I don’t know why, but I assume it is the mindless copying of other recipes without testing or even considering the plausibility of a recipe. Accordingly, the tortillas were like thin omelets and nothing in which to wrap other things. (Lesson 1: Use your brain!)
So I went to about.com, a site I’ve learned to trust when it comes to food preparation, especially ethnic foods. There I found a recipe that made sense and actually worked. Since I was using today as a dry run for a south-of-the-border evening, I was happy to see the tortillas turning out as I had expected. (Lesson 2: Test it yourself!)
The recipe for flour tortillas:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup lard/shortening/butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup warm water (up to)
This is the only caveat – I added all the water at once, instead of adding it slowly, as it said in the recipe. The result was I had to add more flour…
Just add the water until the dough feels right, then knead for 5 minutes. Let stand and rise for a few minutes, roll golf ball sized pieces of dough, then use a tortilla press (didn’t work for me), or roll with a rolling pin.
The dough should also spend some time in the fridge to relax (I didn’t do that, which is probably why the dough kept shrinking when I used my press).
I used a cast iron pan to bake my tortillas, which worked really well – after cooking them (no oil) I put them on a plate with a dishrag over them in a very slow oven (50 C).
For my adobo (=marinade) I used 6 different chiles, cascabel, serrano, pasilla, ancho, and two whose names I forget. The dried chiles were reconstituted in warm water for about 10 minutes, then puréed with a cup of the water they had steeped in. Finely chopped onion and garlic cloves were slowly sautéed, the chile purée added and a can of tomatoes added as well. The tomatoes I cut into small pieces, then added the 2 chicken breast halves, turning the heat down to the smallest setting and adding the lid. I later set the lid slightly off-center, because it was getting too hot with it fully closed.
I left the chicken in the sauce for about 4 hours, with it bubbling every so often. The sauce was pretty hot, but also very pungent and when I turned off the heat and removed the chicken it was juicy but fell apart on the fork. I used 2 forks and pulled the entire meat apart, then drizzled it with some of the sauce (putting it back in the pot would have made the food too hot) and set it aside.
For the pico de gallo, I chopped 2 tomatoes, a clove of garlic, 2 spring onions, some lemon and some lime juice, and of course cilantro. I could have added heat here as well, but ther would be enough later.
An avocado was sliced and sauced with lime juice to prevent it oxidizing.
For the refried beans, I opened a can of kidney beans, drained them, added a cup of water, 1 tablespoon of oregano, 1 tablespoon of cumin and a teaspoon of salt. brought to a boil, I turned off the heat and used a fork to mash the beans.
The cheddar was grated, and the iceberg lettuce shredded, the cilantro chopped and the jalapeños drained.
The party could begin…