For years I have pined for New Mexican flour tortillas, thick bready discs substantial enough to scoop up carne adovada and green chile chicken stew. For years, there was nothing similar in grocery stores outside of NM. Then, there were better thin flour tortillas. And now, a few places do sell thicker versions, but they pale in comparison to fresh.
So I finally got myself some lessons, at the lovely kitchen of Susan McCreight Lindeborg, in Las Vegas, New Mexico. She persuaded Janet Stein Romero, an artist friend in El Ancon who married a New Mexican man (artist Nicasio Romero) and learned to make tortillas from his mother.
So, herewith, the recipe. If you want some pointers on technique — how to roll them out, divide the dought, get them on the skillet properly, check out these videos I made with Susan and Janey.
2 cups all purpose flour
4-8 T lard, depending on preference
2 t baking powder
1 1/2 – 2 tsp salt
3/4-1 cup warm water
Whisk dry ingredients together.
Cut lard in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, and when you grab a small handful and close your hand the mixture retains the shape of your hand.
Pour in a bit of water and mix quickly. Repeat until dough gathers together and its surface is soft but barely sticky, sort of like a post-it note. It’s OK if a little bit of dough sticks to you, but your hands should be mostly clear of dough.
NOTE: It is best to finish the dough too wet and add in tiny amounts of flour. If you mix in water too slowly or too gradually, you’ll likely incorporate too much flour and end up with stiff, hard dough that will give you tough tortillas.
Cover and let rest 20-30 minutes. This lets the flour absorb the water.
Divide dough into 6-12 balls depending on your preference for size and thickness of tortillas. Shape into discs.
Cover and let rest another 15-20 minutes.
Heat cast iron skillet. You want a high enough temperature that the tortillas issue a faint sizzle when they hit it, but not so high that they crisp up immediately.
Roll out a tortilla and slap it onto the skillet. Watch it bubble up. When underside is getting medium-brown spots, flip it, and wait until underside is also medium brown in spots, or even has a few blackened edges.
Wrap in a dishtowel. Don’t cover with plastic because water will condense and make the tortillas soggy.
Repeat with remaining discs.
Serve as soon as you can.