Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Flour Tortillas


9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for kneading and rolling
1 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup cold lard, cut into small pieces (see recipes on rendering pork fat to lard)

1. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the shortening or lard and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender or two table knives until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in 2/3 cup warm water with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and soft, 3 to 4 min., reflouring the surface as necessary. After kneading, the dough shouldn’t be very sticky.

2. Portion the dough into eight equal pieces (about 2 ounces each) and shape each piece into a ball. Cover the dough balls loosely with plastic and let rest on the counter for at least 30 min. and up to 2 hours.

3. When ready to cook the tortillas, heat a large (11- to 12-inch) dry cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat until hot. Working with one ball of dough at a time (keep the remaining dough covered) and using just enough flour to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a 9- to 10-inch round. The dough should be so thin that you can vaguely see the pattern of your countertop through it, and it should be more or less circular, though an amoeba shape is fine, too.

4. Peel the dough off the counter and lay it in the skillet or on the griddle. Cook until the tortilla bubbles and puffs and the bottom browns in spots, 45 to 60 seconds. If any gigantic bubbles form, pierce them so the tortilla cooks evenly. Flip with a spatula and cook until the second side gets brown in spots and any translucent, raw-looking areas become opaque, another 45 to 60 seconds. (If the tortillas brown too quickly or start burning in spots, reduce the heat to medium low.) Transfer to a clean dishtowel and cover to keep warm or put in the oven on very low heat. Repeat with the remaining dough, stacking and covering each tortilla as it’s cooked

Submitted by Sally A - South Arlington

How to render lard on stove top

How to Render Lard

What you need:
A pound or so of pig fat e(ach pound of fat will yield about a pint of lard)
Some containers—Mason jars work nicely.

1. Make sure to ventilate your kitchen by opening a window or turning on the exhaust fan or both.
2. Chop pork fat up into little pieces.
3. In a Dutch oven or heavy, large pot, add about a half of a cup of water to the pot, and then add the cubed fat.
4. On the stove, heat the pot on medium low, stirring occasionally (every 10 minutes).
5. After the fat starts melting (about an hour), you’ll hear some very loud pops. This is just the air and moisture leaving what will soon become cracklings. When this starts to happen, start stirring more often.
6. Soon after, the cracklings will start floating on the surface. Keep stirring frequently, but be careful—you don’t want the fat popping out of the pot and burning you.
7. When the cracklings sink to the bottom, the lard has been rendered.
8. Let it cool, and then pour it into containers through a colander or strainer lined with cheesecloth. The cracklings will be left behind in the cheesecloth and can be eaten however you like.
9. The lard will be a yellowish liquid. This is what it’s supposed to look like.
10. Refrigerate it overnight and when it solidifies it will turn white. It will keep in the refrigerator for about three months, and the freezer for up to a year (do not freeze in glass mason jars).

Submitted by Sally A - South Arlington

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