So guys…happy #TacoTuesday! If I would have had my act together, that’s how this post would read. Instead I put off laundry and other boring things, so I couldn’t actually get this post all finished until today—Thursday. But I was thinking, maybe that’s okay because the day still starts with a “T”, and it’s not my fault that the English language robbed me of the alliteration of Taco Thursday. Wouldn’t Taco Thursday be amazing though? Because then you could have margaritas and not feel guilty that you still have three more work days left in the week. I’m thinking I can just pretend that this was on purpose…
Day of the week aside, I’m pretty excited about this post for a couple of reasons. 1) Homemade flour tortillas! So good, you’ll wonder why you never did it earlier. 2) This shrimp recipe is to die for via Gimme Some Oven. It’s my absolute favorite. And 3) There are peas involved!
So lean in and listen close, because your Taco Thursday just got even better.
First, let’s talk tortillas! I tend to like the soft eating of a flour tortilla over a corn one, so went with that route. Perhaps not as super-authentic, but I also recently bastardized the French madeleine with rainbow sprinkles and artificial vanilla, so I’m not exactly spouting that label here. But back to the tortillas.
Flour tortillas are primarily made up of wheat flour, water, and fat. Your basic dough with gluten for structure and starch for softness while a load of straight fat loosens everything up and prevents the gluten from getting too tight. That’s why you’ll see a couple of resting steps in the directions below. Without yeast to lighten the dough up and only a small amount of leavening power from the baking powder, further handling of the dough causes stronger and stronger gluten structure formation without lift. AKA a tough pancake. The resting periods also give the flour some time to hydrate priming the starch for gelatinization. After bringing the ingredients together and kneading it to form the initial dough, we let it relax for a while. Ditto after shaping the dough.
Those resting steps will keep your tortillas light so that once you roll the dough balls out and throw in on your skillet, it won’t shrink up as the gluten structure contracts. And voila! Soft tortillas for life.
Now that you’ve got the secrets to tortilla production, I suggest you quickly scroll down below for my favorite taco spread. Pea avocado guacamole, spiced and juicy shrimp, tangy feta cheese, and slightly sour, crunchy shallots all come together on a soft flour tortilla. Taco Thursday indeed.
Makes about 30-36 taco-sized tortillas depending on size
Adapted slightly from The Pioneer Woman
*Note: make sure you sift through your flour before measuring. This will prevent you from adding too much flour to the dough. I like to just take my measuring cup and loosen up the flour.
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup + 2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup hot water
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large glass bowl. Add the shortening to the dry ingredients in pieces. Use a pastry cutter to cut the fat into the mixture until you have coarse crumbs.
- Slowly pour the hot water into the mixture. Use a rubber spatula to bring it together until a loose ball forms. Use your hands to lightly knead the dough in the bowl further, about 50 times overall. You should be looking for the dough to become less sticky, but the dough will be very soft.
- Once finished kneading, cover the bowl with a towel and let sit for an hour. This resting period will prevent the dough from tightening up with further handling.
- After resting, pull off small balls of the dough (about ping pong-sized) and roll into balls. Place on a parchment-covered tray and cover with a towel. Let rest an additional 20 minutes.
- Once you’re ready to make the tortillas, heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Starting with one dough ball at a time, roll the dough into a circle, working the dough outward from the middle until the circle is thin. You should just see your fingers when you pull up the tortilla from the counter. (If you’re wondering about the dough sticking to the counter, you don’t need to flour or grease the countertop because the dough contains so much fat already)
- When the pan is hot, put the tortilla circle into the middle of the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds before flipping it over. Cook for an additional 20-30 seconds before removing from the pan. You’re looking to form those tell-tale darker brown spots, but it may take a couple of tries to get it right. If the pan is too hot, the tortilla will get too dark. If not hot enough, the entire tortilla will get overcooked while you are trying to achieve the dark spots.
- Place finished tortillas on a paper towel-lined plate and cover with a towel to keep warm. Repeat this step with the next dough ball until the tortillas are finished.
- Serve tortillas immediately, or reheat in a warm oven after wrapping in foil. Freeze any uneaten tortillas in an airtight bag.
Easy Spiced Shrimp
Barely adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Makes 20 shrimp, so adjust accordingly
20 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Lime juice for finishing
- In a shallow, medium Tupperware container, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, and a few cracks of freshly-ground black pepper. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Cover with the lid and place in the fridge for 15 minutes and up to one day.
- When ready to cook the shrimp, heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and wait for the pan to heat up. You want the pan to be pretty hot so that the shrimp cooks completely while remaining juicy on the inside.
- When hot, transfer the shrimp to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-high, heating until cooked through. This should take approximately 5 minutes, and you should see a change in shape to a tighter curl. Make sure you are stirring all the time to prevent burning. When finished cooking, transfer to a plate. Finish with a squeeze of lime. Serve immediately.
Pea Avocado Guacamole
Inspired by my own all-pea guac. This is a creamier, more mild version using avocado that works better in a taco situation.
Makes about 1 ½ cups guacamole
½ pound (8 ounces) green peas
1 soft, ripe avocado
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 lime, juiced
Handful cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt, black pepper
- Combine the peas and avocado in a medium bowl. Smash together with a fork leaving some peas whole if desired. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir together adding salt and pepper to taste. Don’t be afraid of the salt! This really shines with a healthy salt taste. Serve immediately.
Shrimp and Pea Tacos
Makes about 15 small tacos
15 Flour tortillas
Easy Spiced shrimp (recipe doubled)
Pea avocado guacamole
2 medium shallots
Red wine vinegar
Feta or cotija cheese, crumbled
Chopped cilantro and lime wedges for serving
- Make the quick pickled shallots. Thinly slice the shallots and place in a small Tupperware container. Cover with red wine vinegar and top with a few cracks of black pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Keep any extras in the refrigerator.
- For each taco, spread a dab of guacamole on a tortilla, top with 2-3 shrimp, a few shallot rounds, and a sprinkling of feta cheese. Add some chopped cilantro and the juice from a lime wedge, and enjoy!