Veggie Buds Super Club members received the book, "Curious George Farm to Table" by H. A. Rey in their "Kids Love Sweet Corn" kit, this is a great book that features local food and most notably corn. In the book, Curious George and his friend Marco wish to make tortillas for his abuella's birthday dinner, they run out of masa and go on a search for more. In the process, they learn how masa is made and in the end create tortillas from scratch with dried corn from the Renkin's farm.
This got me thinking that it would be fun to create a featured post on how to make tortillas from scratch. We hope you and your kids will join in on the fun and create some tortillas too!
We're pretty lucky because I happen to know a tortilla-expert in our town, I gave him a call and was happy to hear that he was excited to teach me and my family how to make tortillas at him home. Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin (Regi) is the Chief Strategy Officer at Main Street Project, a nonprofit that has been working to create pathways out of poverty for rural Latino immigrants through specialized agriculture training and skills. Their main focus in on free-range poultry as part of a sustainable regional food system, but they do so much more and I truly encourage you to check out their organization.
We met Regi at his farm and got right to work! First, he showed me and my kids the corn that is used to make masa. You can't make masa out of any dried corn, it is best to use a variety of dent corn that has a high percentage of starch. Here's a close up of the corn that Regi grows for masa, it's much wider and flatter than sweet corn.
In order to truly make masa from scratch you first soak the dry corn kernels all day, add lime to the soaked corn, bring this to a boil for a bit, remove from heat, add more water, allow to soak for another 8-16 hours, wash and remove all skins, and grind. For a full tutorial we found a great guide from Saveur Magazine here. To save a bit of time (well, a lot of time!) we made tortillas from Maseca, a corn flour masa mix you can find at more grocery stores.
Regi makes tortillas by feel, so he poured a heaping mound of Maseca into a big bowl, we then added a little water at a time and formed a nice dough. The consistency reminds me of Crayola Model Magic Foam, and I can tell you the kids liked to play with it! I've included a recipe from chef Rick Bayless at the end of this post that you can follow since you probably don't have Regi in your kitchen as a guide;)
After we formed a very large ball of dough it was time to make the tortillas! We made little dough balls and pressed them in a tortilla press (this was my daughter's favorite part). Regi then pan fried them on a cast iron griddle on extremely high heat, approximately 500 degrees Farenheit. The cast iron was not oiled, and we needed to work fast. Once one tortilla was off of the griddle it was time for the next! We made two tortillas at a time.
Finally it was time to feast! Regi kept it local by only including ingredients all grown on his property: baked chicken from Main Street Project, black beans, tomatoes, and (of course) tortillas. And let me tell you, these tortillas were incredible, it's going to be hard to go back to store-bought!
Corn Tortillas Recipe
This recipe is from chef, Rick Bayless, you can also find it here:
And just for fun here are some more photos from our great visit at Regi's farm!