When we’re dreaming about tacos, its usually about two things: carnitas or guacamole. But, the real unsung hero is the one who holds it all together: the tortilla.
This Cinco de Mayo, we celebrate the simplest of inventions that make the taco possible, thus making our lives infinitely happier.
Tallboy Taco’s Executive Chef, Tim Hockett, tells us how he fell in love with tortillas and spills all his expert tips to make it at home!
Or, just head over to Tallboy Taco and have our experts make it for you. Make a reservation here.
Let’s taco ’bout it
Tim remembers the first time he witnessed a little old lady in Mexico pressing fresh masa with a ~1,000-year-old tortilla press, as she created consistent-sized tortillas with ease and near-magical precision. The aromas of the fresh tortillas filled the air as they slowly blistered on a hot comal (griddle traditionally used for tortilla making in Latin America). The earthy, somewhat sweet smell alone made his mouth water and the flavor of a fresh, hot, steaming tortilla straight off the griddle tasted like no other.
Tim came back to Chicago to replicate her process – one that looked much easier than it was. Lucky for Tim and Tallboy Taco (and us!), a local Chicago purveyor, Popocotepetl, supplies fresh warm masa every day for the restaurant. The masa, made with Mexican corn, boasts the process of nixtamalization (traditional method of soaking corn in an alkaline solution, like limewater), which is key to obtaining optimal aromas and tastes, and makes for a chewier and healthier tortilla.
Each morning when the masa arrives, the kitchen is instantly filled with the smell of fresh ground corn. The Tallboy Taco team then hand presses each tortilla for the 500 – 1,000 tacos sold each day.
Homemade Tortilla Recipe
Masa from Popocotepetl
- Soften masa with 1-2 cups of warm water until it cleanly pulls apart
- Fold in a touch of kosher salt to ensure a great pop of flavor in each tortilla
- Cut out small circles of plastic in the size of your tortilla – grocery store bags work the best!
- Roll out 2 ounce balls of masa
- Place masa balls in the tortilla press atop a piece of plastic. Reuse plastic for pressing all tortillas
- Heat a griddle to 350°
- Place on hot griddle for 45 seconds
- Flip and cook for an additional 1 minute
- Flip once more and move it to the coolest side of the griddle
- Allow tortilla to puff up. Remove from griddle
Check out them tacos!
Now that you know your tortilla A-B-Cs, head on over to Tallboy Taco any day of the year with a cerveza or margarita. Here are some of our favorites!
Gunthrop Farms Carnitas | Pulled Chicken Tinga | Pork Al Pastor | Beer-Battered Crispy Fish