Tasty Tortillas

We didn't celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year. Chris had a fancy Kentucky Derby party in the city, and I hadn't really thought about doing anything special.  But, then I started to think about how much fun it is to make homemade tortillas, and I kind of went crazy.  You should have seen the look he gave me when he came home to enough food to feed the neighborhood.
I made my tortillas using Grandma Salazar's recipe from The New York Times (2005). All you need is flour, baking soda, salt, and bacon drippings, vegetable shortening or lard, and you'll have 12 lovely 8-inch tortillas in about an hour's time.  I only had wheat flour but I think all-purpose makes the best ones.

Basically, you mix flour, baking powder, salt and shortening together and mix by hand until crumbly. Then, you slowly mix in a cup or so of water until you have a smooth yet sticky dough. Then, you form the dough into 12 balls and then cover and let rest for at least 20 minutes.  You roll the balls into 8-inch rounds (doesn't have to be a perfect circle) and then place between sheets of waxed paper. Then you can either refrigerate or use them right away. If you use them right away, heat a griddle/grill pan over medium heat and cook one at a time (minus the wax paper) until puffy and slightly brown on each side, about a minute total. Wrap in a clean towel or place in tortilla keeper with wax paper between each and keep warm until serving.

I needed something to fill my tortillas, so I made a corn and black bean dish, some shredded spicy BBQ chicken, some garlicky fire shrimp and some lime/cilantro steak.  Put the shrimp and steak in the fridge to marinate while you make the tortillas.

Corn & Black Bean Dish
1 can corn
1 large can black beans
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced (canned is okay)
1 TBS olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Chili powder
Ancho Chile paste
Kosher salt
1 bunch cilantro

  • Drain the corn and beans in separate colanders. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet on the stove.
  • Mince the garlic cloves and add to the oil.
  • When garlic starts to soften, add in about 2 tsp each of cumin, cinnamon and chili powder, stirring until fragrant.
  • Stir in the corn until heated through and add the jalapeño.
  • Add the beans and gently stir in the Ancho paste to combine. 
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings -- add a bit of kosher salt and more cumin, cinnamon, etc. if needed. It should be spicy and smoky.
  • Let simmer for a few minutes then add 2 TBS or so of salsa (use a good, tomatoey kind like Newman's Own).
  • Cook a few minutes more until any extra liquid is gone.
  • Before serving, stir in cilantro for color and more flavor. You can put in your tortillas or serve on the side.

Spicy Shredded BBQ Chicken
1 large can chicken breast
1 TBS olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 can diced tomatoes with jalapeño
1 TBS chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup spicy salsa
2 TBS barbecue sauce (I prefer Bull's Eye Original -- no high fructose corn syrup)

  • Drain the chicken and the canned tomatoes (you can put them together). Set aside.
  • Heat oil in large soup pot on the stove.
  • Mince the garlic cloves and add to the oil.
  • When the garlic starts to soften, add the chicken and tomatoes and stir.
  • Let simmer for a few minutes, then stir in the chili and garlic powder, salsa and BBQ sauce.
  • Cover and cook on low for about 10 minutes until chicken is shredded and you have a lovely sauce.
  • Tweak flavors if needed then set aside to cool.  Serve on tortillas with slotted spoon so you don't get the juice all over you. 

Garlicky Fire Shrimp
2 dozen large or extra large shrimp
2 cups spicy salsa

  • Remove the tail, peel and de-vein shrimp if needed.
  • Mix in bowl with salsa (I prefer the fresh salsa found in the deli section of my grocery store for this; otherwise, combine 1 TBS olive oil, 3 tsp hot sauce, 2 tsp lime juice, 1 chopped tomato, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 seeded/minced jalapeño and 1/2 diced onion).
  • Marinate in fridge for at least 30 minutes. 
  • Heat grill pan until smoking, then add shrimp in one layer and cook until pink, about 5-7 minutes total.
  • Remove from heat and serve in tortillas with a dollop of sour cream.

Lime/Cilantro Steak
1 package steak for stir fry or fajitas
2-4 limes
1 bunch cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 jar of limeade
Garlic powder
Kosher Salt

  • Place steak in a bowl and add 1 lime diced (peel and all), 2 TBS chopped cilantro, and 1 sliced garlic clove.
  • Pour 2 cups of the limeade over steak and put bowl in fridge to marinate for at least 30 mins. Use the rest of the limeade to make mojitos!
  • Heat grill pan until smoking, then add steak (using slotted spoon) and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Cook until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes total.
  • Remove from heat and serve in tortillas with a wedge of lime and some fresh cilantro leaves.
Topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, hot sauce, and salsa, homemade tortillas can make any day a party.

Está buenisimo.