You may have noticed, we do an awful lot of celebrating Taco Tuesday around here. It's what happens when you live in a town that sits on the border of Mexico, and legitimately has it's own style of Mexican cuisine. It's a way of life. If you grew up in San Diego, and didn't have cheese quesadilla's as a staple on the kids menu anywhere, I'm going to challenge your residency. My kids are as familiar with chips and salsa as they are French Fries; and rice and beans are always their side dish of choice when offered.
I'm also a huge fan of "bars" when it comes to family dinners. I refuse to cook six separate meals for six different palates; and around here you eat what's on your plate, or you really weren't that hungry to begin with. Dinner bars are a great way for kids to express themselves by their individual food personalities, without making me pull my hair out in the process. We do chili bars, pasta bars, hamburger bars, potato bars, pizza bars, sandwich bars, and the ever popular Taco Tuesday bar... you name it, we've done it, and in every conceivable cuisine possible. It's also a great way to serve a whole lot of people at once at a party, without having to worry about what everyone likes or may be allergic to.
But, I digress...
My Taco Tuesday game was improved ten-fold when I started adding homemade tortillas to the mix. To be honest, I never even thought about it, until my sister-in-law brought some to a family Taco Tuesday, and they were Just. So. Much. Better. My recipe has evolved, I absolutely adore her inclusion of green onions, and will add those to mine periodically, although-my tried and-true version includes fresh cilantro and a dash of lime zest instead. Yummy either way you choose to make them. Asking a few friends who were raised in Mexico, making their own families versions of tortillas really stepped up my game, really helped me to develop a well rounded basic flour tortilla dough, that we use almost weekly, and that is easy for anyone to duplicate in their own home.
This is one of those recipes where amounts are subjective. I can't stress this enough-- you need to mix this dough by hand, and feel when you have added enough. I include base amounts here, to get you started, but you may need to add more in each step, as the dough dictates. Don't feel daunted, I've included pictures to show you what you are looking for.
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
4 scallions, greens sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 T warm water
In a large bowl combine flour, pepper, scallions, and salt. Mix with your hand.
Add vegetable shortening, and mix into the flour with your hands. as you mix, you will see that the flour starts to change texture. you are looking for it to look like flour, yet hold together if you squeeze it. Think of kinetic sand. It looks grain, yet will hold together if you mold it. Add more shortening, if you need to, to get it to this consistency.
Once the flour holds together when you mold it, yet still breaks apart, it's time to add water. Start with 1 T of warm water, still using your hands, adding more as needed. Once the mixture reaches a dough-like consistency, you've added enough.
Mold the dough into a rounded disk shape-- about 2 inches tall, and wrap with saran wrap. Let rest on your counter for an hour.
Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium heat, about 8 minutes before cooking tortillas.
Create individual balls of same-sized dough; about 24. Making sure to flour both your hands and work surface. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll each individual ball into a thin tortilla, and set aside.
Cook tortillas in batches of one or two. Place directly onto the cast-iron skillet, about 3 minutes per side. I move the tortilla around after a minute or so, to prevent sticking. Don't worry if air pockets develop, that can happen.
Keep tortillas wrapped in a warm towel until ready to serve.
Note: This recipe makes about 24 small sized tortillas. If we are not feeling particularly ravenous, making tacos for school lunches, or cooking for more than our core six, I will still make this much, and refrigerate half to use later in the week or for the next day's leftovers. You can choose to halve the recipe and make less, if you want.