Flour tortillas are just as authentic to the Mexican food canon as their corn-based counterparts. This version uses a blend of whole-wheat and all-purpose flour for added fiber and nutrients. They're traditionally cooked on a comal, which is a cast-iron griddle—find one at a Mexican mercado (grocery store)—or you can use a cast-iron skillet. The important thing to remember when making flour tortillas is to not get too caught up in rolling them into a perfect circle; nothing is more delicious than a tortilla straight off the comal, whether perfectly circular or not. If you want to make them without the chorizo, simply add 1 1/2 tablespoons more lard.

EatingWell.com, September 2022

Gallery

Credit: Vianney Rodriguez

Recipe Summary

active:
45 mins
total:
1 hr 45 mins
Servings:
5
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"That tortilla is shaped like the state of Florida!" I hear one of my aunts cackling, just as my grandmother walks over to me fumbling at the kitchen counter. I'm about 12 years old and attempting to make tortillas de harina with my grandma and aunts; my grandfather is off to the side laughing at us as he makes Mudslide cocktails for the adults, his one kitchen job.

Grandma takes the rolling pin from my hands, and I stare down at what indeed looks like a flour tortilla shaped like the state of Florida. I step back, letting the eldest woman in my family fix my tortilla-shaping mishap. I watch as she effortlessly rolls the tortilla, giving it a quarter turn after each roll, to ensure it's as evenly round as she can get it. The memory ends there for me, but bonding with loved ones in the kitchen, laughing at our wonky, imperfect tortillas, is something that lingered.

It would take decades before I attempted to make tortillas—flour- or corn-based—again. The memory of how difficult it was to roll the tortilla into a perfect circle scared me away, but when I started developing my own flour tortilla recipes I let go of the perfection. 

In the U.S., tortillas de harina (flour tortillas) are far too often thought of as Americanized, while tortillas made with masa (corn) are seen as authentically Mexican. This is very far from reality, though. My grandparents' fridge held flour and masa tortillas, and both were a frequent accompaniment to our meals; tortillas were more like a utensil. We'd use flour tortillas to scoop up beans in lieu of a spoon or fork, or use them to dunk into a runny egg yolk with chorizo and papas (pan-fried potatoes) for breakfast. 

In Northern Mexican states like Sonora and Chihuahua, the tortilla de harina is omnipresent. Of course we are aware that wheat was likely brought over from Europe through the conquest of Mexico; centuries later, wheat grows in abundance in the Northern region. The rest of the history of flour tortillas in Mexico is filled with "gaping holes," as written about by Mexican food writer Andrea Aliseda in her Substack essay Tortilla de Harina: A Moon of Mystery. Flour tortillas would eventually become just as dominant in the U.S. as corn tortillas, if not more, and perhaps their popularity in the States is why they are seen as being the Americanized tortilla. Don't try to tell that to the people of Northern Mexico.

In the U.S. people tend to be fixated on the idea of authenticity in food. Authenticity, though, is largely a myth since so many dishes have somewhat murky origins as it is. Recipes have always been open to interpretation, even the seemingly authentic ones. It seems archaic and misinformed to me, then, to suggest that flour tortillas are strictly an invention of the U.S. Southwest, and less Mexican, less authentic than corn tortillas.

It's easy enough to understand why people in the United States tend to assume masa tortillas are superior to their wheat-flour counterparts. Mass-produced and full of enough preservatives to give them a lengthy shelf life, the most readily available and accessible flour tortillas in the U.S. are typically nothing to write home about. Usually bland and not like anything resembling the paper-thin, buttery harina tortillas that are the flatbread of choice in Northern Mexico, the flour tortillas on grocery shelves in this country became a distant memory for me when I started making my own.

Now, my kitchen is 2,500 miles away from my grandparents, the kitchen we first made tortillas in, and the rest of my family in California. My kitchen does double duty as my workspace where I develop and write recipes as a freelancer. In my kitchen I've made batches and batches of flour tortillas; each one different because they're hand-rolled. Like with anything that takes time and energy, you get better at rolling tortillas the more you practice. Working with tortilla dough is something that helps me feel closer to home and closer to my heritage. Every step in my flour tortilla recipe reminds me of my earliest tortilla-making memory; the Florida-shaped tortilla that at first kept me from making my own. Now, my still-irregular, but circular-enough tortillas do just fine; buttery and tender, they're a nod through the miles back home to my family, to my first flour tortilla memory.

Step-By-Step Photos: How to Make Tortillas

Step 1: Stir all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour with a fork in a medium bowl. Add leaf lard and cut into the flour using your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour in the rendered chorizo fat and stir. Add salt to hot water; pour into the flour mixture and stir until a rough dough forms.

Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas with Chorizo Step 4
Credit: Vianney Rodriguez

Step 2: Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Keep the dough pieces covered while you work. Roll 1 piece in the palm of your hands and form a ball.

Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas with Chorizo Step 6
Credit: Vianney Rodriguez

Step 3: Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Roll the ball into a thin, roughly 7-inch circle.

Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas with Chorizo Step 8
Credit: Vianney Rodriguez

Step 4: Transfer the tortilla to the hot skillet. Cook on one side until bubbles form on its surface, 30 to 35 seconds. Flip the tortilla, using a spatula, and cook on the other side until it puffs up in places, about 25 seconds.

Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas with Chorizo Step 10
Credit: Vianney Rodriguez

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Cook chorizo in a small skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and crumbling, until crispy in places, the fat has been rendered out and it's cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a bowl; set aside. Transfer the rendered fat to a small bowl.

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  • Stir all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour with a fork in a medium bowl. Add leaf lard and cut into the flour using your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour in the rendered chorizo fat and stir.

  • Add salt to hot water; pour into the flour mixture and stir until a rough dough forms. If the dough seems crumbly, add more hot water, a tablespoon at a time. If it feels too wet and sticky, add a bit more of one of the flours. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel; let rest for at least 1 hour or wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

  • Heat a cast-iron skillet or comal over medium-high heat. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Keep the dough pieces covered while you work. Roll 1 piece in the palm of your hands and form a ball. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Roll the ball into a thin, roughly 7-inch circle.

  • Transfer the tortilla to the hot skillet. Cook on one side until bubbles form on its surface, 30 to 35 seconds. Flip the tortilla, using a spatula, and cook on the other side until it puffs up in places, about 25 seconds. Transfer to a tortilla warmer or clean kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.

  • Warm the reserved chorizo in the same skillet. Serve with the tortillas for tacos. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

To make ahead

Refrigerate tortilla dough and cooked chorizo (Steps 1-3) separately  in airtight containers for up to 1 day. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling.

Nutrition Facts

2 tacos
517 calories; protein 14g; carbohydrates 38g; dietary fiber 4g; sugars 1g; fat 35g; saturated fat 11g; mono fat 5g; poly fat 2g; cholesterol 52mg; vitamin a iu 752IU; vitamin b3 niacin 3mg; vitamin d iu 10IU; folate 83mg; vitamin k 1mg; sodium 638mg; calcium 13mg; iron 3mg; magnesium 39mg; phosphorus 113mg; potassium 114mg; zinc 1mg; omega 6 fatty acid 1g; niacin equivalents 4mg; selenium 23mcg.
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