Monday, January 30, 2012


You may recall that a few months back I became the proud owner of a very, very large bag of masa harina.  This multi-pound bag was purchased for a recipe that required one tablespoon of the stuff.  One tablespoon.  I nearly thought I was crazy as I dragged the bag up to the Whole Foods check-out.  Since then, it's basically been sitting in my pantry.  With the exception of the Chocolate Chili (the incredible recipe for which the masa harina was purchased) and a Sweet Corn Cake recipe that I've loved for years, the masa has been rather neglected.  Last week, however, Miss Masa was well-rewarded for her patience. 

After contributing to three batches of homemade corn tortillas, Masa is looking rather slender these days.  Her bag is now about half as full as it was at this time last week, and she's seen many hungry tummies satisfied by her freshly cooked tortillas and quesadillas.  It's been a good week for Miss Masa (and for her many new-found adoring fans).

My mother-in-law and I attempted tortilla-making-sessions #1 and 2 (we made two batches, so we had plenty of time to get pretty good at it). We discovered a few things about tortilla-making:
  1. Fresh tortillas taste just that...fresh.  You can't buy tortillas like these at Aldi or Stop and Shop.  And I always think it feels so good to eat simple, fresh foods that required only a few ingredients.  Masa, water, and salt.  That's it. 
  2. It's tricky to press tortillas by hand.  Getting the right leverage is the hardest part.  We did it, and we started to perfect our techniques, but if one plans on making lots of tortillas, a press would be a good investment (and I use the word investment loosely as they go for about 20 bucks.)
  3. When things go right, we get excited.  My mother-in-law and I both squealed with excitement when our tortillas puffed up on the griddle.  Sometimes it's the little things that make a girl happy.
Mandi and I had tortilla-making session #3 together.  We also learned a few lessons:
  1. Don't attempt to make tortillas with an over-tired toddler in the kitchen.  Things get hairy.
  2. Heat is important for the cooking process.  Even at the highest setting, our electric griddle took forever to get the tortillas to the level of toastiness that we wanted.  Traditional griddles (or possibly just a frying pan) are better options.
  3. Homemade tortillas remind us of childhood.  The distinct corn flavor (and scent) of the masa was very reminiscent of the Venezuelan arepas that our mom used to make for us when we were kids.  We always adored this meal when she would make it, so our homemade tortillas (which we then used for cheese quesadillas) made us sigh happily as we took bites of the comforting corn-and-cheese-goodness.
What lessons will you learn from masa?  Whatever they are, they're bound to be good because they'll be accompanied by some delicious, authentic, homemade tortillas.  Get yourself a bag of masa harina, and be assured that your pantry (and your appetite) will be the happier for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...