Homemade Flour Tortillas

I can’t say I agree with Amanda’s views on**FIX** corn tortillas.  I realize they’re more authentically Mexican, but I’m not a fan.  Of course, they do make some delicious tortilla chips.  I prefer flour tortillas.  I always use them regardless of what the recipe calls for.  For example, carne asada tacos should be made with corn tortillas.  However, I enjoy them much more with flour tortillas.  They have a more neutral flavor and come out so warm and soft…  If you’re not prejudiced like me you really should check out**FIX** Amanda’s recipe for corn tortillas.  Some flavors are designed to pair with corn tortillas rather than flour.

Despite our disagreement over the merits of corn vs. flour tortillas, Amanda is 100% CORRECT that homemade tortillas are way better than store-bought and they’re easy to make.  Trust me, they’ll take your dishes to a whole new level.  Once you’ve tried homemade tortillas, you won’t want to go back!

Homemade Tortillas

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Prep Time: 10 minutes + 30 minutes resting time

Cook Time: ~1 minute per tortilla

Serves: 6 (12 tortillas)

Ingredients

12 oz. Flour
5 tbsp. Lard or Shortening
3/4 c. Warm Water
3/4 tsp. Salt

1.  Combine the flour and lard/shortening in a bowl.  Mix, using your fingers or a pastry blender, until the dry ingredients appear crumbly.  The lard/shortening bits should be about the size of peas or a little smaller.

Note: Using lard greatly improves the flavor of your tortillas.  Unfortunately, lard has gotten a bad rep.  It’s really nothing to be afraid of.  Lard actually has less saturated fat than butter and is a good source of healthy unsaturated fats.  That said, I don’t recommend using store-bought lard – it’s been hydrogenated to make it shelf-stable (Yikes!!).  I render my own using the fat I get when I order a heritage quarter hog.  If you don’t have a source of high quality pork fat to render your own, you’re better off sticking with shortening (I recommend Spectrum Organic).

2.  Dissolve the salt in the warm water then add about 2/3 of it to the dry ingredients and mix.  If all the dry ingredients haven’t been wetted, continue mixing in additional splashes of water until everything is wet.  It’s okay if the dough doesn’t form a cohesive mass.  You don’t want to add too much water or your tortillas will be sticky and difficult to work with.  Again, you only need to add enough water to get everything wet.

Tortilla Dough

3.  Knead the dough on a lightly floured cutting board for a couple minutes until the dough comes together and becomes smooth.  Divide the dough into 12 golf ball-sized balls.  Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and allow to rest 30 minutes.

Note: This recipe is for fajita/taco-sized tortillas.  If you want medium-sized tortillas for enchiladas, divide the dough into 8 balls.  If you want large tortillas for small burritos or wraps, divide the dough into 6 balls.

4.  Now you’re ready to press your tortillas.  I recommend using a tortilla press – it helps your tortillas to stay round and even.  If you don’t have one you could press them between two cutting boards or do your best just using your hands.

Put a piece of wax paper down on the press (or cutting board) and place a dough ball on top of it.

Press Tortillas 1

Cover with another piece of wax paper and press.  This should give you a fairly round, thinner piece of dough.  If you don’t want to cook all the tortillas at once, this is the stage where you should stop.  You can store these thick tortillas, separated by pieces of wax paper, in a ziplock bag in the fridge for about a week.  When you’re ready to use them, allow them to come back up to room temperature before proceeding.

5.  Once your tortillas are pressed, they are still too thick to cook.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the tortillas on a lightly floured cutting board until they are 6-7 inches in diameter.  Tip: To help keep your tortillas round, turn the tortilla 1/8 or 1/4 turn after each roll.

Roll Out Tortillas

6.  Now your tortillas are ready to cook.  Heat a skillet over medium heat, and, once it’s hot, cook the tortillas one at a time.  As the first side cooks, bubbles should form on the surface of the tortilla.  If your tortilla isn’t bubbling, press gently on the surface with a spatula to encourage bubble formation.  Flip the tortilla after 30-45 seconds and cook another 15-30 seconds.  You should have nice golden patches where the tortilla bubbled.  To keep your tortillas warm while the others cook, place them in a tortilla warmer (I LOVE this one) or stack on a plate and cover with a kitchen towel.

Cooking Tortillas

Top your fresh, warm tortillas with your favorite taco fillings – try our Chicken Tinga (pictured below), our Chipotle Stout Braised Beef, or chicken marinated in our Mexican Citrus Marinade – and enjoy!

Tinga Taco

See, now wasn’t that easy?  After one bite, you’ll know it was worth the little extra effort to make your own fresh tortillas!

This recipe can also be adapted to make flavored tortillas.  I use it to make spinach wraps for lunches.  If you want to make herb-flavored tortillas (spinach, cilantro, etc.) , combine 1 c. (loosely packed) of your herbs with the salt and water in a blender and puree until smooth and use this mixture to wet the dry ingredients in step 2.  If you want to make tomato tortillas, puree a tomato with the salt then add enough water to bring the mixture to 3/4 c. volume and use this mixture in step 2.

Spinach Tortilla 1 Spinach Tortilla 2

Raspberry Margaritas

Margaritas are one of my favorite cocktails – they’re delicious, they’re made with tequila (¡que bueno!), and they come in such a variety of flavors.  Of the flavors you commonly come across on menus, I’ve always been partial to raspberry.  Raspberries are one of my favorite fruits and they have an inherent tartness that helps keep the margarita from becoming overpoweringly sweet (an unfortunate fate which befalls many strawberry margaritas).  We’ve had a particularly sunny summer in Juneau, and the bushes next to our building have a bumper crop of raspberries this year so I set out to make the perfect raspberry margarita at home. Raspberry Margarita I adapted the raspberry syrup from this recipe by upping the raspberry and cutting back on the sugar.  If you prefer a more tart margarita, you could probably cut back on the sugar even more – this recipe still comes out pretty sweet.  Then I combined the syrup with the right amount of tequila and lime juice to satisfy my taste in margaritas.  For me, I want to be able to taste the tequila and detect that hint of lime.  I can’t tell you how many flavored margarita recipes I’ve come across online that use WAY too much lime juice so that’s all you taste.  I love lime juice, but it has a very strong flavor (especially if you use bottled lime juice rather than fresh-squeezed) so a little goes a long way.

This recipe takes a little longer than some other cocktail recipes since you’re making your own syrup from scratch, but it’s well worth the effort.  You can make the syrup several days in advance and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.  Then your drinks come together in a snap whenever the mood strikes.  I hope you enjoy this refreshing, fruity margarita!

Raspberry Margaritas

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Prep Time: 5 minutes + chill time

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 generous c. Raspberries
1 scant c. Sugar
1/4 c. Water
12 oz. 100% Agave Tequila (I like Hornitos)
6 oz. Lime Juice

1.  Measure out your raspberries and sugar.  You want a very generous cup of raspberries (see how mine are piled above the top of the measuring cup) to get plenty of the raspberry flavor, and a scant cup (you could even call it a generous 3/4 c.) of sugar – you don’t want the margarita to be too sweet… Raspberry 1_2Raspberry 3_2

2.  Combine the raspberries and the sugar with the water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat.

3.  While the mixture is heating, stir and break down the raspberries.  I use a potato masher, but you could also use a whisk.

4.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.  Make sure you watch your pot as the syrup has a tendency to boil over which creates a REALLY sticky mess on your stove… Boil Syrup 5.  Once the mixture is done cooking, pour the mixture through a strainer to catch all the raspberry seeds.  Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, push on the seed/pulp mixture to get as much raspberry liquid out as you can.  You should be left with a nice, smooth raspberry syrup.

Strain Syrup Raspberry Syrup

6.  Allow the syrup to chill in the refrigerator until cool.  This syrup can be kept in the fridge for several days if you want to make it ahead of time.

7.  In a pitcher, combine the raspberry syrup with the tequila and lime juice and stir well to combine.  You could also combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, but for four servings you’d have to do it in two batches.

Note: When I measure the tequila and lime for this recipe I use the large side of my cocktail jigger which is 1 1/2 oz.  Measuring this way, it’s two shots of tequila and one of lime juice for each margarita (8 of tequila and 4 of lime juice for 4 margaritas).

Also, I use bottled lime juice for this recipe.  Fresh-squeezed lime juice is great, but I don’t keep many limes on hand in my fridge.  If you are using fresh-squeezed (which has a mellower flavor), you could increase the amount of lime juice you’re using some without overpowering the other flavors. A quick aside on bottled lime juice – I now only buy mine in the organic section of the grocery store.  I used RealLemon and RealLime for a long time before I looked at the ingredient label and realized this “100% Juice” wasn’t actually all juice… Now I buy organic lemon and lime juice and which has only one ingredient, lemon or lime juice.

Serve on the rocks with a raspberry and lime wedge as garnish (if you’re feeling fancy). Raspberry Margarita Now carry your tasty beverage out to a sunny porch and settle in with a big bowl of tortilla chips and freshly-made salsa and guacamole (try our Roasted Garlic Guacamole) or drink it alongside one of our Mexican dishes:

Chicken Tinga Tacos

Chipotle Stout Braised Beef

Green Citrus Chicken Enchiladas

Looking for another tasty margarita recipe?  Try our blended Pineapple Mango Margarita!

Fontina and Prosciutto Stuffed Pork Chops

Looking for the perfect dish to impress that special someone?  Maybe you’re celebrating a special occasion?  Or perhaps you’re just looking to enjoy an indulgent meal?  This pork chop is just the ticket – It’s tenderness and rich flavor gives the dish a luxuriant feel, but the recipe is easy enough that anyone can make it.  Really, how could you go wrong with pork stuffed with more pork?!  Throw in some nice, creamy cheese and you’ve got a dish to die for!

Stuffed Chops

Pork, while delicious, can be a little difficult to cook.  If not treated properly, it has a tendency to dry out and become tough.  There are a couple things you can do to help avoid this.  First, start with high-quality pork.  I order pork from heritage breed pigs online.  Once you’ve tried heritage pigs, you’ll have a hard time going back to your typical grocery store pork chops… You can also brine your pork chops, as we’ll do in this recipe from Tyler Florence.  The brine will help your pork chops retain moisture, keeping them tender and juicy while they cook.

Fontina and Prosciutto Stuffed Pork Chops

Prep Time: 40 minutes (including marination)

Cook Time: 25-30 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2 Pork Chops, thick-cut and bone-in
4 c. Water
2 tbsp. Sugar
2 tbsp. Kosher Salt
2 sprigs Thyme
5 Whole Cloves
3 Allspice Berries
4 slices Prosciutto
2 slices Fontina Cheese
Olive Oil
1/4 c. Chicken Broth
2 tbsp. Butter

1.  First, make the brine for your pork: Combine the water, sugar, kosher salt, thyme, cloves, and allspice berries.  Pour the brine over the chops and marinate 30 minutes.

Brine the Chops

2.  While the chops are brining, you can make your prosciutto bundles by wrapping the prosciutto around the slice of fontina.

3.  Drain your pork chops and pat them dry.  Cut the pork chops to create a horizontal pocket in the middle of each chop (see below).

Pork Chop Pocket

4.  Stuff your prosciutto bundles into the pockets of the pork chops minimizing the amount of prosciutto sticking out of the chops.  Depending on the size of your cheese slices, this may be difficult.  Just do the best you can.  I usually have to fold the edge of the fontina-prosciutto bundle and cram it back into the pocket.  Secure with toothpicks (Tip: Soak your toothpicks in water while the pork chops are brining to prevent burning).

Stuff chops

5.  Heat a skillet (an oven-safe one if you’ve got it) over medium-high heat and add two turns of olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, add your pork chops to the skillet and sear 4-5 minutes on each side until golden.

6.  If your skillet is oven safe, move it into the oven.  If not, transfer the pork chops and their juices to an oven-safe baking dish (I recommend preheating the dish in the oven while the chops sear).  Bake at 425°F 10-15 minutes until pork chops are cooked through.

7.  Set the pork chops aside to rest and put the skillet with the juices back on the stove over medium heat.  (If you had to use a baking dish, pour the juices from the dish back into the skillet you used originally).  Add chicken broth to the skillet and stir, scraping the bottom.  Fold in the butter, whisking to thicken the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

8.  Plate your pork chops and drizzle with the pan sauce.  Grab a steak knife and cut into one of the juiciest pork chops you’ll ever have – DELISH!

Stuffed Chop Dinner

To make this a meal, serve with a couple Veggies and Sides.  I like to have these pork chops with Roasted Smashed Potatoes and a green vegetable.  I recommend avoiding sides that also contain prosciutto (like our Sauteed Chard with Prosciutto) as it can overpower the meal.  On a side note, fontina and prosciutto are also a great combo with chicken – just stuff the chicken with fontina, wrap it in prosciutto, and bake.