Tortillas de Maíz (Corn Tortillas)
Now, Rick Bayless doesn't expect you (or him) to make fresh-baked corn tortillas for everyday dinners. But he does want to arm you with the know-how for that special moment when the full, fresh-baked Mexican experience is all that will satisfy. After all, fresh-baked corn tortillas are, like fresh-baked bread, one of the greatest pleasures of life. And like authentic French bread, corn tortillas go stale just hours after being griddle-baked (neither French bread nor Mexican tortillas contain any moisture-preserving fat). So at least once, have the full experience. When you've got time to track down the fresh-ground corn masa (or powdered masa harina) and lay your hands on a tortilla press.The rest of the time, he's got these suggestions: (1) Buy corn tortillas that are made by a local tortillería if at all possible—they're typically fresher, made in an authentic fashion and often have no preservatives. (2) Store them in the refrigerator for no more than a few days—freezing tortillas can often lead to brittle, dried out tortillas, or ones that have gotten mushy around the edge because of moisture condensation. (3) If the tortillas have been made that day, you can quickly reheat them one at a time on a dry griddle or skillet (or even over a low direct flame as many of my Mexican friends do); otherwise steam heat them in a microwave or vegetable steamer as described on. Delicious, Quick Side Dishes
Maseca brand masa harina is widely available in well-stocked groceries and Mexican markets. Smooth-ground corn masa is available almost exclusively from tortilla factories—make sure they're grinding it from whole corn rather than reconstituting the powdered masa, which you can do yourself
Reheating Corn Tortillas: With a microwave oven Dribble 3 tablespoons water over a clean kitchen towel, then use it to wrap your cold tortillas. Slide the package into a microwaveable plastic bag and fold it over—don't seal. Microwave at 50% power for 4 minutes to create a steamy environment around tortillas. Let stand for 2 or 3 minutes before serving. Without a microwave oven Set up a vegetable steamer (it can't have that little post sticking up). Pour about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom. Wrap the cold tortillas—no more than 12—in a clean kitchen towel. Lay the package in the steamer, set the lid in place and set the pot over high heat. When steam comes puffing out, set a timer for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and let the tortillas sit in their steamy world for 10 minutes. That's when they're ready.
Copyright 2005 Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.