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Red chile pepper flour tortillas

April 21, 2013

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These flavorful and colorful tortillas are an easy adaptation from the regular flour variety.  The tomato paste adds a beautiful deep “rustic” color and subtle flavor while ground chiles contribute  some flavor, spice and lots of character.  Ground New Mexican chile pepper gave a more intense flavor while the McCormick brand chile powder gave a somewhat milder tasting tortilla. This particular product listed chile pepper, spices, salt, silicon dioxide (to make free flowing), and garlic for its ingredients.  I used freshly toasted and ground dried guajillo chiles for this recipe.   These were a bit milder in spiciness but gave a  brighter flavor and color  to the tortilla. There may be a variety of dried chiles to choose from in the “Latin-American” section of your supermarket.  Different chiles will vary in flavor, color,  and heat level.  Try experimenting with your own blends.

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This recipe yields 10 to 12 tortillas:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons ground red chile pepper

1 teaspoon salt

2 ounces vegetable shortening (about 1/4 cup)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

about 1/2 cup plus 2 to 3 tablespoons warm water

Warning!    This dough will stain your cutting board and rolling pin. It will take some work to remove the orange-reddish stain so don’t use your heirloom or favorite tools!

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If you are grinding your own dried pepper:  Heat a heavy or iron skillet to medium.  Cut open the dried chiles and remove the seeds. You don’t have to remove every last one.  One by one, press them flat on the skillet with tongs or a metal spatula, turning them over until slightly toasted on both sides. Make sure not to burn them as it only takes a few seconds. Let them cool down, crumble them, and grind a few a time in your spice grinder. Ten guajillo peppers rendered about 8-9 tablespoons of ground chile. Store the extra pepper to use for other recipes.

In a small bowl, dissolve the tomato paste in the warm water and set aside. Mix together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Incorporate the vegetable shortening into the mixture by rubbing it in until it is well dispersed.  Now add the tomato paste and 1/2 cup water mixture to form a workable dough gradually adding the extra tablespoons of water if required.  Knead about 5 minutes adjusting with more flour or water if needed until it is smooth.  The dough should be neither dry nor wet.  Divide into 10-12 portions, roll into balls,  cover with plastic wrap,  and let rest for 1 hour.

Heat up your iron skillet or comal to medium while you begin to roll out the tortillas. Be sure to roll them out thin. Take your time with them to shape into rounds. Put one on the skillet and cook for about 30-45 seconds. You should see some bubbles form. Be sure to pop the large ones so that the tortilla cooks evenly.  Flip it to cook the other side for about 30 to 45 seconds.  Put them in a kitchen towel as they come off your skillet to keep warm.  To store them,  wrap in a kitchen towel, then put in a ziplock bag. They’ll keep in the refrigerator for about a week.  Reheat to bring back their pliability.

A tricky part in making tortillas is getting the right amount of water in the dough.  Different flours have different absorbing qualities so it may take a few attempts before you get it.  A dry dough will result in a slightly brittle tortilla while a very wet one will give you tortillas with moist patches.  The 1/2 cup plus a couple tablespoons water is just a guide.

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You may also try adding fresh cilantro or oregano, fresh or dried,  to the recipe.

I’m interested in reading about your tortilla making experiences or some memories eating them.

A note on the photos-I think it’s worth mentioning that  the color of the tortillas and dough in the top photos is close to the real thing. They really are a striking and beautiful looking tortilla. The color of the tortillas in the bottom photo are washed out a bit because I took the photo at a later time of day and in different conditions.  Getting a proper understanding of photography is an ongoing experience for me.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Roberto Gonzalez permalink
    April 22, 2013 12:43 am

    Man, just beautiful! I was trying to imagine what they are like, beautiful creative visions! Hope all is well!

  2. April 22, 2013 12:51 am

    It did take me a few tries to get it right! Thanks Roberto!

  3. March 25, 2016 1:13 pm

    LOVE!! Amazing pics and recipe!

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