With the weather turning colder, it only feels natural to make Chicken Tortilla Soup. I’ve been through multiple copycat recipes from several San Antonio restaurants, trying to concoct my own personal recipe that suits my taste. I’m still working on it, but I did make a large pot the other day. Being so excited about having it again (a twice a year experience, typically), I failed to remember how to actually eat it “properly”. I had remembered the cheese, but left out the lime, forgot to buy tortilla chips, avocado (not in season now) and add the little cilantro I’m growing on my windowsill. The following day, I added the three of four and it tasted much better.
It made me yearn for my Tex-Mex comfort food. Having warmed up store bought flour tortillas with the soup just didn’t have the same effect. I’d been reading about cooking with lard recently and knew that was the secret ingredient to good flour tortillas. I went to the butcher and bought some beautiful white lard, hardly any porky smell to it which means it’s good to use for pastry dough as well.
Another cold day in New Zealand and not a lot to do today, I decided for about the third time in my life to make flour tortillas with my newly purchased lard. My hopes were not high. Last time I made some, they were unremarkable and in the shapes of different countries. It turned me off of trying again. But as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. I found a recipe from a person who had been perfecting working with lard in tortillas and everything they said made sense and my mouth water. I followed the recipe to the T. I cut in the lard with the flour and salt and added the cold water which flows freezing out of my tap. That was the secret to flaky tortillas instead of warm water, which apparently makes they chewier. I quickly kneaded the dough with the heel of my hand, covered it and let it rest for 10 minutes.
I came back to cut into 10 pieces and cover again for another 10 minutes. Now the time of reckoning…flatten and roll out on a lightly floured surface. The dreaded rolling! I thought back on watching the ladies in restaurants. They would lightly roll the dough until a good circle formed, turning the dough so it was always facing them…rolling back and forth, not to the sides. Then apply more pressure to thin them out. After the 4th tortilla, I felt I had it down pretty well and they were starting to resemble circles!
As the first one got thrown onto the hot pan, I smelled a faint hint of pork…ahhh this must be a good sign. It started puffing up in spots and when I flipped it, it had that lovely floury feel with perfect little brown spots. It started puffing up more and they were a little thick, just the way I like them. Deciding this would be the worst tortilla of the batch, I put a pat of butter on it and rolled it up, throwing the next tortilla on.
As soon as I bit down, I knew I had done it right. A warm, flaky, floury and tender tortilla…at last! This was definitely my best attempt yet and was excited to know there were nine more on the way. I rolled as I cooked them and slid the hot ones onto a towel. “Too bad I only made 10,” I thought to myself. But at least I know for next time…triple batches. No more buying tortillas from the store. I’ve found my little piece of heaven right here in my own kitchen. It was there this whole time, just waiting for me to discover it!