Homemade Fresh Masa
To make fresh homemade masa for tortillas or tamales, you must first prepare nixtamal—dried corn soaked in an alkaline solution. Though this process of nixtamalization may sound intimidating, it’s quite simple and requires only two key ingredients: dried dent corn and pickling lime, or cal, both of which are available at Latin markets and online. First-time masa makers should look for yellow dent corn, which has a high content of soft starch that will produce soft, pliable dough that is easy to work. (We like the Great River Organic Milling brand, available at amazon.com). Cal breaks down the outer hull of the corn and softens the starch within, making it more nutritious and easier to grind and form into a dough. While the corn needs to soak in the lime solution overnight, the resulting sweet corn flavor and texture are well worth the extra time. Event producer Paola Briseño González uses a metal Estrella molino, or mill, to grind the corn; she’s also developed a genius food processor technique that yields excellent results. If using a processor, be sure to let the corn cook and soak a bit longer to ensure that it grinds evenly.