Monday, July 23, 2012


Dear Lauren,

I ate my first gordita in Houston right before we moved to Dallas. I never saw a gordita on a menu again until we moved to Atlanta. No gorditas in Dallas. None in Los Angeles. Actually, none in Atlanta! I found a gordita in a tiny spot in Cumming. Have you been there yet? It's called Taco Mexico.

You might think I'd forgotten all about the gordita in the twelve years I went without. Nope. But why I never thought to try to make one of my own, I don't know.

Here are the gorditas I had at Taco Mexico on Thursday night.

And here are mine.

They were terrific.
But I admit, if I'd only followed the recipe, I think I would have quit after my use of the tortilla press went south and definitely when I burned them! (Don't look for the tortilla press instruction in the recipe, I'm not giving them to you! It was a disaster!)

I'm going to tell you everything you need to know to make a successful batch the way I did it. I'm sure there are other ways. I think they were better than Taco Mexico's! Although for $4.95 and no work, there will be days that Taco Mexico will trump mine!

Dad went to our local Mexican market and bought some fresh masa.

Five pounds for $2! You can't beat that!

I want you to watch two videos. The first one is a lady in Mexico making sopes, a variation on a gordita. Her "patting" method saved me because the cookbook I was relying on had another method that was ineffective for me. The second video is just plain funny!

Now because Cecelia is making sopes, her method after the initial cooking on the grill is where we parted ways. After you cook gorditas on the griddle, you deep fry them which Cecelia does not. I'm suggesting that you watch this video for her dough kneading and patting methods. But feel free to use the dough recipe below and follow Cecelia's lead all the way through her video! Sure wish I could write to her and tell her how much she helped me!

Love the mariachis! But what is the guy thinking? He talks to and toasts the lovely Maria but the "special guest"? He nearly smacks her in the face after he drinks his tequila! I feel sorry for her! I want to go give her a big hug! Just watch the second video for the comic relief.

The cooking of the gorditas is a two-method process. I cooked mine on the grill like the first video and they're "done" when they look like this:

You see how they are cooked on the flat side but still doughy on the edges? That's what you want. Note: This also shows something you don't want but is easily fixed. Do you see the cracks on the side of my dough? My dough was too dry. Next time I will add a little more water so they'll be smooth like Cecelia's in the video. Luckily, the taste and texture were not adversely affected.

The second step involves a skillet and 1/2 inch of oil. You deep fry for 45 seconds and then drain them. Slice them open, stuff them with whatever you like and eat! Delicious! We stuffed some with shredded pork and some with beef fajitas. You can stuff then with whatever you like. I'll give you the recipe for the gorditas and some serving suggestions but let's hold on the fajita recipe and save that for another day. OK?

adapted from Cecilia in Ixtapa, Guerrero Mexico (watch her every move!) and Rick Bayless' Mexico One Plate at a Time recipe on page 42-44 and the Q&A section on pages 49-50

1 pound (2 cups) fresh smooth-ground corn masa for tortillas (Ask at your Mexican market, ours carries it every day. They don't have a website but it's the carniceria near the Walmart on Atlanta Highway.)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
vegetable oil

Knead the masa in a bowl and add a little water until you get the consistency of soft cookie dough. Then knead in the rest of the ingredients. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions (55 grams each, I used my scale; you can eyeball it if you want!) and roll each portion into balls. Cover with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.

Heat up your well-seasoned cast iron flat griddle plan or a cast iron skillet or a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pat your dough balls one at a time to about 4 inches in diameter or 1/4 inch thick and add them to the skillet. You will cook them about a minute on each side.You're looking for them to be lightly browned and crusty on the top and bottom and uncooked on the edges. Move them to a plate one by one when they are done.

Add 1/2 inch of vegetable oil to a deep, heavy skillet or a saucepan and heat it over medium heat to 350 degrees. It's great if you have a deep-fry thermometer but I don't. I had a tiny bit of extra dough leftover so periodically I would toss a tiny bit in the skillet. When it bubbles, you're ready. Cook your gorditas one at a time, for 15 seconds on side one, then turn and finish cooking for a total of 45 seconds. You are looking for a crisp outside, not a browned outside. You might notice that some of them puff a little during the cooking process. This is great but the ones that don't puff are great too. Drain on paper towels.

Once they're all fried, take a small knife and cut a slit in the thin edge of each about halfway around its circumference, opening a pocket.

Fill each with about 1/4 cup of meat or egg of your choice, chopped onion and cilantro or pico de gallo, a little dollop of Mexican crema or sour cream, and a sprinkle of Cotija or other dry grating cheese like Romano or Parmesan. Enjoy!


P.S. I still have 3 pounds of fresh masa! My friend Lauri Polunsky made gorditas too and she used this recipe. I might just try it!!

P.P.S. The cookbook said to make the gorditas right before serving, never the day before. Yet I saved the two that were leftover to see if I could still use them the next day. Since you missed the gordita dinner, I served them to you for breakfast, remember? You could only eat one, so I ate the other and I felt they lost very little of their original texture. Pop them in the toaster on a low setting to reheat or wrap in a damp towel and put them in the oven on 350 for about 5 minutes or until warmed through.

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