Tortillas are a staple in our home; they always have been, and they always will. When I was younger—much, much younger—I remember standing on my tippy-toes on a yellow stool out in Tome, New Mexico, watching my Nana and Tia make homemade flour tortillas. I was amazed that these small, but mighty women, could knead and roll out dough with such intensity. I also distinctly remember that there was no recipe in sight (a hard concept to grasp since I sometimes have to quadruple check the directions on how to boil water. Kidding. Kinda).
My Nana and Tia always had tortillas on hand, and whenever we went on vacation they’d give my dad a dozen or so to take with him so we could have tortillas, no matter where we were around the country. To this day, my dad still travels with tortillas!
When my dad was going through chemo a decade ago, he lost his sense of appetite, big time, and certain foods made him really sick, but tortillas were something he always enjoyed eating. My mom jokes around that when she makes them they come out looking like the shape of the United States instead of a circle. But honestly, that’s what makes them homemade! It doesn’t matter their shape—they still taste delicious.
The following recipe is what my mom, Tia Frances, and my other aunts use to make tortillas. Unfortunately, neither my Nana or Tia are around anymore, so I’m not sure if they used it, too, but I’m willing to bet my Tia Frances got the recipe from them.
I have to warn you about one “ingredient” that’s not mentioned, but absolutely necessary. This is going to sound completely cheesy, but I swear it’s true. You have to make these when you’re in a good mood, because they need to be made with love. We make these quite often, and any time we make them and we’re just not in the best mood, they come out different (and not a good different). We’ve learned to only make these when we’re really feeling the love. Trust me on this and really put your heart into making them.
- 4 cups white flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 3 tsp salt
- 4 tablespoons lard (or shortening)
- 1 1/2 cups very hot water (let the faucet run until it's as hot as it gets)
- Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut in lard or shortening. Make a well in the center and add water, a small amount at a time, to form a dough. Knead dough with hands in bowl until it's smooth and feel elastic. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Form dough into egg-sized balls and flatten between palms. Preheat ungreased cast-iron skillet to a medium-high heat. With rolling pin, roll each ball into 6-inch, thin circles (or to the size of your skillet). Cook for approximately 30 seconds to 2 minutes (depending on how hot skillet is) on each side until tortilla looks slightly speckled and golden brown. Cover with a clean towel to keep tortillas warm and soft until served. Store tortillas in a plastic bag for later use.
We don’t just make one batch when we make these. Nope. We double or triple it and then keep the extras Ziploced in the fridge. They’re delicious to eat plain, or you can use them to make a burrito, dunk it in taco soup, or scoop up some enchiladas. There’s really no wrong way to eat a tortilla.