We are having good friends for dinner tonight and we are eating tacos... As it happens, I have a wee bit of extra time today, so I am making fresh corn taco shells (aka tortillas de harina). These traditional South American flat breads are the perfect vehicle for your favourite taco fillings and sauces as they stay pliable and are strong enough to hold all the goods. They also happen to blow any store bough tortilla right out of the water. Keep in mind that they take a bit of practice so be kind to yourself as you get the hang of making them and don't worry about having a tortilla press because you can use a small saucepan and get the same great results. If you have never made fresh salsa then this classic is where you should start...
Pico de Gallo This classic Mexican topping can be made with or without jalapeños. Keep in mind that adding the seeds ups the heat.
Makes about 2 1/2 Cups
1/2 medium white onion, diced
2 cups diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced jalapeño (optional)
Kosher salt (be generous)
1. Place 1 cup cold water and 2 ice cubes in a medium bowl. Add onion; stir, then discard ice; drain well.
2. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapeño, if desired. Season with salt.
Tortillas de Harina Corn Tortillas
The unleavened bread of Mexican cuisine, corn tortillas are made from masa, a type of corn flour. Freshly made corn tortillas are delicious. But in case you don't have time for the press and grill routine, here are some tips on how to rejuvenate store-bought tortillas.
HOW TO REHEAT PACKAGED or HOMEMADE TORTILLAS
Keep tortillas in the refrigerator until ready to use. Reheat them by wrapping stacks of up to 8 pieces in tin foil. Then, place wrapped tortillas in an oven set at 350F for about 15 minutes.
If you're crunched for time, just wrap six to eight tortilla rounds in a dish towel and microwave for 30 seconds until soft, pliable, and ready to be filled.
2 cups (or more) masa (corn tortilla mix; preferably Maseca brand)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Vegetable oil (for brushing)
1. Whisk masa and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water; knead in bowl until dough forms. The dough should feel firm and springy and look slightly dry (think Play-Doh). Add more water by tablespoonfuls if too crumbly; add a little more masa if too wet.
2. Measure 1 heaping Tbsp. dough and roll into a ball. Flatten on a tortilla press lined with a plastic bag. If tortilla crumbles, dough is too dry (add more water); if it sticks to the plastic, dough is too wet (add more masa). Repeat, pressing out 2 more tortillas.
3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; lightly brush with oil. Cook 2–3 tortillas until charred in spots and edges start to curl, 1–2 minutes. Turn; cook through, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a kitchen towel; fold over to keep warm. Repeat, in batches, with remaining dough.