The Unusual Way I Make Tortillas (And Why Weeknight Tacos Always Win)

published Mar 26, 2014
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My family moved to Europe when I was just six weeks old and we lived there, mostly in Vienna, Austria, until I was 14. My husband likes to joke that my bread obsession comes from growing up in a city where no weekend morning was complete without riding the city bus to pick up fresh-baked Semmeln and Schwarzbrot from the bakery down the street!

The bread was out of this world, true, but there were some cravings that couldn’t be satisfied by Viennese grocery stores in the 1980s, like Mexican food. The details are hazy, but my mom tells me that at some point someone in their group of American expat friends came up with a recipe for homemade corn tortillas (which were really more like corn crêpes) and passed it along to my mom, who passed it to me when I went to college. To this day it remains the staple of my go-to weeknight meal, and my very favorite tortilla-ish recipe:

These tortillas are pretty high on my “foods I like to eat” list. They’re also the first thing I make when I don’t know what else to make, especially if I’m trying to clear out my fridge.

Unlike more traditional corn tortillas, which start with a dough, the recipe I use is more of a batter than a dough, made with water, flour, cornmeal, and an egg. After whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl, I put a little oil into a small skillet (I actually love using coconut oil!) and then pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet, immediately rotating the pan so the batter thins and spread out. I let one side cook until it’s easy to slide a metal spatula underneath to flip it over (usually 3-4 minutes), then I flip and cook the other side until the tortilla starts to brown and scorch in spots.

I love these crêpes-tortillas because they’re soft and moist with a subtle corn flavor, and always go with whatever motley crew of ingredients I top them with. I may pan fry cannelloni beans and sauté some kale with garlic. If I have time, I may also caramelize a batch of onions. I’ll definitely cut up a ripe avocado or make guacamole, grate a little cheddar cheese, and open a jar of salsa. I usually keep things vegetarian, but I’ve filled these tortillas with fajita-style chicken and peppers before, and they still taste great. I’ve also been known to eat one or two right off the skillet!

Yes, making these tortillas takes longer than simply heating up store-bought tortillas, but it’s still easy enough for a lazy, clean-out-your-fridge taco night — and the flavor payoff is worth it.

What foods top your favorites list?