Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sin City Tortillas

I am way too visually stimulated. Scary movies give me nightmares. Not even movies that others consider scary - I saw stupid stupid Outbreak and could hardly sleep for two weeks. I am so completely unhip.

A couple of years ago, everyone was telling me about Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City and how utterly fabulous it was. I, knowing full well that I should not, went to see it. I walked out of the movie theater in a practically catatonic state from discomfort, carrying a general feeling ickiness. I was not a happy camper.

A year (or more?) has passed and Mr. Rodriguez has made it up to me. You see, he is a badass. The DVDs of his movies (for sure Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Sin City, not sure about others) had short cooking videos as a bonus feature. How awesome is that?? The first video had him making puerco pibil, the same dish that Johnny Depp’s CIA agent killed cooks for when he found one that he particularly enjoyed. The second video at the end of the Sin City DVD has Mr. Rodriguez making breakfast tacos with homemade flour tortillas. The egg breakfast taco part of the video was nothing terribly remarkable. The tortillas, however, were stunners. Fluffy, with round brown spots from the hot skillet, they looked nothing like the plastic-enclosed stuff you buy in a grocery store.

He, being the badass that he is, looked like he was born with tortilla dough in his hand (that’s actually kind of gross. Sorry). I had some ethnic and cultural shortcomings to overcome in attempting to make tortillas, but I think it did a passable job. There was room for improvement, certainly – my tortillas wound up oddly crunchy on the edges and not exactly circular (umm, if you squinted just right they sort of looked like circles), but it wasn’t bad for the first try.

Absent was the odd chemical aftertaste of store-bought tortillas (at least the ones sold on the East coast) as well as the rubbery, gummy texture. Instead, there was warmth, freshness, fluffiness, and softness. If I could make tortillas large enough to use as blankets, I would. Alas, as that is currently not a possibility, I had to make do with regular sized fresh tortillas, but they perfect for holding skirt steak fajitas with adobo seasoning and green bell peppers. One day, long in the future, I may approach badass-hood. Not holding my breath though.

The following is my annotated transcript of the YouTube video of Robert Rodriguez making tortillas.

Sin City Tortillas

2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup butter
½- ¾ cups warm water

- Cut the butter into the flour in a food processor, stand mixer, pastry cutter, or just two forks (the trick is to incorporate the butter without melting it from the heat of your hands). The flour will have a course, almost cornmeal-like consistency.
- Add water until the dough holds together but is not sticky (Mr. Rodriguez is descriptive and vague all at the same time on this point).
- Knead the dough for about 2 minutes.
- Separate dough into 8 – 10 golf-sized balls.
- Wet a towel with warm water, cover the dough balls and allow them to rest for about 20 minutes.
- Squash the dough balls into disks and roll out (I floured my board rather heavily. Mr. Rodriguez did not. I am not half the badass he is).
- Plop tortilla dough onto heated skillet over hot heat. Cook on one side ~8 seconds and flip over (if the tortillas are coloring too quickly, turn down the heat). Cook about a minute – the tortillas should start bubbling, indicating that the baking powder is doing its job. Flip them over again and press on the edges a little with a spatula to keep them in contact with the cooking surface.
- Cover with towel to keep the tortillas warm until ready to eat.

Consider yourself a badass for making your own tortillas. I do.


JC said...

I'm gonna have to try making these tortillas. I'm surprised they don't have lard in them! I guess the butter does the same thing. I saw the puerco pibil video when I rented the Once Upon a Time in Mexico DVD. It looked really good too!

Anna said...

I couldn't find lard! I now know that I should have gone to a butcher shop to look for it. I will get lard next time I make them. The video says the tortillas will roll out better with lard but I can't say I had any problems with the butter.

aimee said...

So what's going on here - one pizza and you're a kneading expert?

Apparantly I am entering into a cook off with my friends flatmate. I'm not sure how or why this was decided, but I'm pretty certain that beer was involved. I think making these might just put me on the badass train to victory. That's got to get me a few brownie points for sure.

Hillary said...

Haha Anna! You are a badass for most of the things you make...just like I said in my comment to your paneer post :) Keep up the delicious work.

leena! said...

What a random place to find a recipe! I love it. I am also a card carrying member of the badass society. Welcome to the club!

Anonymous said...

I tried once to did these, but the tortillas were too fat :P Now I'm trying again ;) I'm doing it because I have finally finished my mid terms and now I'm a free person :D

Anna said...

Yay for no more midterms! Exams are awful, aren't they? The only thing I can suggest about the tortillas is to roll them out thinner than you think you should - they puff up quite a bit on the skillet. I am pretty sure that you already figured that out by yourself though.