Homemade Corn Tortillas and Soft Chicken Tacos
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Yesterday I finished my Healthnut Dump Soup that I made sometime last week (yay, me – I had a mug every single day!), so I had to make another batch. So, I’ll be good for another week.
And I forced myself to do 45 minutes on the bike. I’m feeling pretty darned proud of myself, I’ll tell you.
Tonight Bill has to breeze in and then out again, for a meeting. Dinner will have to be chop, chop and easy to eat.
I thought I’d make some homemade tortillas and have some soft chicken tacos. Uber healthy and low in calories.
Making your own corn tortillas (or flour, for that matter) is a lot of fun. I don’t do it all that often, but I enjoy it when I do.
We used to go to this little taqueria in town for soft chicken tacos. They were to die for because the tortillas were fresh and warm and made by this little ol’ Mexican lady on the grill outside. She could turn those puppies out like nobody’s business. We watched her, fascinated by her rapid-fire hands, as she turned out dozens of warm, tender corn tortillas.
That’s how I came up with little tips for you in how to form them.
This is the tortilla press that Bill made for me a couple of years ago. Yeah, the handle is an old wooden table leg he had stashed out in the garage. He got the design off the internet (of course – where else?) and it turns out that this type of tortilla press is actually an antique one.
In case you or your husband don’t happen to have an old wooden table leg lying around the garage, you can buy a great tortilla press on Amazon. Bear in mind that I do not own this Amazon tortilla press, but I did do my homework. Here’s the tortilla press link on Amazon, if you’re interested. http://amzn.to/2lIaFAr
The only real problem with making these is keeping Bill out of my kitchen because he’ll always steal one or two. He gets his hand slapped for it (just like he does with bacon) but that hasn’t stopped him, yet.
I decided to make up a new batch of Red Salsa for tonight. You can find the recipe here. It only takes a few minutes if you have a Cuisinart food processor. And the taste is pretty darned amazing.
If you don’t yet have a Cuisinart food processor, here is the Amazon link http://amzn.to/2CjitQ8 . I’ve owned 2 in 35 years and the only reason I updated was because all these kids kept appearing and the first one was too small. They are a real workhorse in the kitchen, as long as you keep them out on the counter!
If you want to use store bought tortillas, that’s fine with me. As I’ve said before, I’m not the food police.
Soft Chicken Tacos
Chicken breasts or tenders, sliced thin
¼ cup canola oil
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
Any combination of the following:
Shredded Mexican Cheese or Queso Fresca
Salsa or taco sauce
Guacamole or avocado slices
If you like a lot of options in your soft taco, you can buy extra large ones now. I’m a purist, so all I put in my taco is chicken, cilantro and salsa, so the smaller ones are fine. You can also double up your tortillas, for extra strength.
Place chicken pieces in a pie pan. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together oil, chili powder, cumin and coriander. This is not terribly spicy. You can up the spices, if you like, but I like my salsa to take center stage, instead.
Pour this mixture over the chicken slices and stir to mix. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 5 minutes up to overnight. No biggie. Obviously, the longer you let it marinate, the stronger the flavor will be.
Heat your oven to 200°.
When you’re ready to saute the chicken, heat a skillet to medium high. With a slotted spoon or spatula, scoop out the raw chicken pieces into the hot skillet, leaving most of the oil in the pie plate. That would be way too much oil, if you were the dump the entire thing out!
Brown both sides and keep warm in a 200° degree oven.
Warm your tortillas by heating in a dry skillet that is set on medium low. When warmed on both sides, remove to a pie plate (yes, I have at least 6 of these babies) and loosely cover with foil before putting them in your oven.
I have found, at least with my homemade tortillas, that if I store the tortillas in the oven completely uncovered, they’ll dry out. On the other hand, if I cover them completely, they may start to steam in the oven and that will cause them to become fragile and they’ll fall apart. So, I just lay the foil over the pie plate but don’t crimp it tightly.
Assemble your tacos however you like, pour yourself your favorite Mexican beer with a squeeze of lime, and enjoy!
Homemade Corn Tortillas
Instant Corn Masa Flour
You can find masa flour in the Mexican aisle of your grocery store. Follow the package directions. They will tell you how to make whatever number of tortillas you need.
Heat a skillet to just over medium.
Now, I’m going to give you some awesome tips.
First of all, use a regular size ice cream scoop. Scoop out the mixture so that it fills the scoop but doesn’t go above the rims.
Make round “meatball” type shapes. When the dough is nice and round and smooth, gently take your hands on both sides and act like you’re trying to start a fire with a stick. (You know; gently move your palms in opposite directions a few times). You should end up with an oblong “meatball” of dough.
On the bottom of the tortilla press, put a piece of parchment paper big enough that it overlaps the circle a bit. You’ll want to cut out just two of these pieces of parchment paper.
Also cut a large, heavy freezer bag into this same shape. You’ll want two of these, too.
With the parchment paper on the bottom, place your oblong of dough like so. It will be only 1/3 up the distance of the press, not halfway up. If you see the photo, you can see how it’s supposed to lie. Now, cover with the freezer bag, and gently press down on the dough.
Close the press and pull the lever down, as far as you can. I am really short, so in order to get a lot of oomph on my press, it helps to place the tortilla press on a bar stool that I put next to my cutting board. When it’s lower, I can put my full weight on it (which is saying something!).
The oblong will now become a perfect circle. You may need to practice this a couple of times, but you can reuse the dough, so no big deal. Thanks, my tortilla-making wonder!
After you have your perfect circle, gently remove the freezer bag. Don’t pull it up – instead, pull it slowly, close to the tortilla, toward you.
Pick up the parchment paper with the tortilla attached. Take it over to the hot skillet. Grabbing the outer edges, flip the tortilla over so that the parchment paper is on top. Using your spatula, gently press down on the parchment, so that the tortilla is pushed flat into the pan. Don’t remove the parchment yet. At this point, it will very likely take some of the tortilla with it.
Instead, let it cook for a minute or so, then gently peel it back. If the tortilla sticks to it, let it cook a bit longer.
When the parchment paper will come free, check the underneath of the tortilla. You want it lightly browned.
Use a metal spatula, and flip like a pancake. I love my nice, long, delicate fish spatula for this. It’s my favorite spatula.
Check the underside after a minute and remove to a plate.
When you get more practiced, you will find you can prepare your second taco while your first one is in the skillet. This will make the process go that much faster.
I hope you’ll try this. It’s really pretty fun and the results are so worth it.