For no good reason, in all of my 28 years I've never made a tortilla. Pita, crepes, pancakes, yes. Tortilla, no. (That last sentence was in Spanish.)
And I still haven't, but last night Elise did, and the results were transformative. If only the standard, suburban "taco night" style dinner would replace packaged tortillas with the real deal, that horrible imitation of Mexican food would become less wooden puppet and more boy. If you then improved on ground beef with "taco seasoning" and shredded iceberg lettuce, so much the better.
But even if you're having DIY burritos or fajitas and you've assembled the world's finest fillings, relying on the contents of that telltale slim ziplock bag for your wrapper can still undo all of your efforts.
Last night I realized that there's nothing like holding a homemade tortilla in your hand. It's durable, yet pliant. Soft, yet firm. It's like holding the hand of a trusted friend, and then eating that hand.
We (Elise) also poached a couple of chicken legs and made a simple sauce with a can of diced tomatoes, dried poblanos, and a splash of the cooking liquid from the chicken. We rolled up the meat from the chicken with a hearty dose of the red sauce and a spear of romaine and were in heaven.
From the More-With-Less-Cookbook
(makes 8-11 tortillas)
Combine in mixing bowl:
2 c. unsifted flour
1 t. salt
Cut in with pastry blender (or a fork or your hands):
1/4 c. lard or shortening (we used butter)
When particles are fine, add gradually:
1/2 c. lukewarm water
Toss with fork to make a stiff dough. Form into a ball and knead thoroughly on lightly floured board until smooth and flecked with air bubbles. To make dough easier to handle, grease surface, cover tightly, and refrigerate 4-24 hours before using. Let dough return to room temperature before rolling out.
Divide dough into 8 balls for large tortillas or 11 balls for common 8-inch size. Roll as thin as possible on a lightly floured board, or between sheets of waxed paper. Drop onto a very hot ungreased griddle. Bake until freckled on one side. (Takes only about 20 seconds.) Lift edge, turn, and bake on second side.