Tortillas de Manteca

There was a time in Mexico’s northern states when the use of rendered lamb and beef fat to make flour tortillas was as common as the use of pork lard. The fat of one animal is just as good as another, even if the taste may be slightly different.

Tortillas made with tallow, manteca de res or sebo in Spanish, are indistinguishable from those made with lard, until they are tasted. Tallow gives them a richer and somehow warmer flavor than lard.

As the flavor is unique, the type of tortilla is produces should be as well. Tortillas de manteca, also referred to as gorditas de harina, are a smaller and thicker tortilla with a higher ratio of fat to flour, as the name implies. The result is a flaky, richly flavored and golden tortilla easily eaten on its own.

Due to their thickness, these tortillas are cooked at a lower heat than their thinner counterparts, to make sure they are cooked completely through. If that sign of the perfectly made tortilla does not appear, those pillowy air pockets separating one face from another, do not worry. This recipe produces them in much smaller quantities.

If a less flaky tortilla is desired, add more water to the dough, approximately one or two tablespoons, or enough to make the dough just barely stick to a clean finger. The remainder of the recipe would be worked the same.

For a primer on flour tortilla making, visit an earlier post: The Tortilla Ratio.

Tortillas de Manteca

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 125 g (2/3 c) tallow, room temperature
  • 240 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Scant 1/3 c water, warm

Working with a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the tallow until very creamy. Switch to a dough hook. Add dry ingredients and mix at low speed until the dough takes on a sandy appearance. Slowly add the warm water with the mixer running, and continue to mix until the dough comes together into a smooth ball.

Wrap the dough tightly in plastic, and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Heat a heavy cast iron or non-stick skillet over low heat. Divide the dough into 10 portions, rolling each into a smooth ball. Working on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, press each portion to an approximately 4″ circle. Cook on each side for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, or until toasted to a medium golden tone.

Keep wrapped in a clean kitchen towel to maintain warm.

If a less flaky tortilla is desired, add more water to the dough, approximately one or two tablespoons, or enough to make the dough just barely stick to a clean finger. The remainder of the recipe would be worked the same.

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