Beef Tallow Flour Tortillas
A recipe for light, pliable, chewy, and delicious flour tortillas.
This week I'm re-publishing a recipe that’s been a favorite of mine and many other people with whom I’ve shared it. I love this recipe because flour tortillas are a really approachable introduction to making bread at home— they only use a few simple ingredients, don't require any complex proofing or fermentation, and come together super quickly.
Mother Tongue Cooking Club is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Traditional flour tortillas are made with lard, but I swapped that out for beef tallow recently and the results were incredible. The tallow lends a really nice flavor and texture without being overpowering or heavy. You could also make these with duck fat (another favorite of mine), rendered bacon fat, or really any other type of animal fat. That said, I think that beef tallow adds something special, and I recommend tracking some down. Try looking at your local farmer's market or butcher, or you can buy it online from Epic, Fatworks (at their store or on Amazon), or White Oak Pastures.
This recipe calls for all-purpose flour, which you can of course pick up at any grocery store. But you can get even more flavor by seeking out artisanal flour brands, which use heirloom grains that have much more flavor than grocery store flours. I used this all-purpose blend from Barton Springs Mill, which is a local mill that makes flours from heirloom Texas grains. Sonora wheat is a particular landrace varietal of wheat that was bred specifically for flour tortillas in Northern Mexico— pick some up if you can find it! If you can't find anything locally, Barton Springs Mill, Anson Mills, and Maine Grains are all great resources that sell online.
As always, let me know if you've got any questions!
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1/4 - 1/3 cup (~60g) beef tallow
Start by adding your flour to a bowl and mixing in a big pinch of salt.
Mix the dry ingredients to incorporate.
Add in 1/4 - 1/3 cup tallow — it should be at room temperature or slightly melted, but not liquid. You just want it pliable enough to be able to work it into the flour.
Using your fingers, press the flour and fat together to incorporate. You want a mealy texture like the photo below. Mix it together until the fat is evenly distributed throughout the flour.
Next, you want to pour in and incorporate your water.
Start with 1/2 cup (118g) room temperature water, and add more as needed. Different flour types will hydrate differently, so just add it a bit at a time until you get the consistency you want.
Using your hands, slowly mix the flour with the water until it is just incorporated enough to hold the dough together (like the photo below).
Once the dough is incorporated, move it to a lightly floured work surface.
Being careful not to overwork it, knead the dough until it comes together and is smooth, elastic, and pliable. The dough should have a smooth surface and just a little bit of "bounce" when you press it with your fingers.
Once you get there, cover the dough with a damp paper towel and let it rest 10-15 min.
After the dough has rested, pinch off a piece the size of a golf ball. Leave the rest covered.
Place the dough ball on a floured surface and press it flat. Turn it over to get a bit of flour on both sides.
Using a rolling pin (or a wine bottle, if you don't have one), roll the dough ball into a large, flat circle.
I personally like to roll these quite thin, so they’ll come out light and chewy.
Pre-heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Cook the tortillas for 30 seconds - 1 minute on the first side, turning the tortilla as it cooks.
Once it starts to bubble up, flip it and cook on the other side for another minute or so.
You want the tortilla bubbled up and cooked through, with light spots of browning. Once both sides look like that, the tortilla is ready to eat.
Serve these immediately, as they're best eaten piping hot.
That said, you can also make these ahead of time, store them wrapped in the refrigerator, and reheat them in a dry skillet. You can also make the dough ahead of time and store it for a few days in the fridge or a few months in the freezer.