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Little Fat Ones...aka Gorditas

These are not your imitation (ie. Taco Bell) Mexican fare. Nope, these are the real thing. TB's are more like a thick pita. Let me start by saying that I actually like Taco Bell...however, it is in no way indicative of authentic Mexican food. It's good especially after a night of drinking but it is very Americanized. Again, nothing wrong with that...until people start thinking that what they call a gordita, is not actually a gordita. Gorditas (gordo=fat, ita=little...basically. It's an ending) translates to "little fat ones". They are actually little "pockets", if you will (not wraps like TB would lead you to believe). You can use either fresh, raw masa to make them or you can use masa harina reconstituted with water. Both methods bring delicious results. They had their beginnings as a "street food" in Mexico, but have made their way into homes (especially mine) and restaurants. I know that I cannot explain it better than my favorite Chef Rick Bayless, so I'd like to quote his description. "A gordita begins as a thick raw-masa tortilla that's first cooked on the griddle, then slipped into hot oil to finish. In those transformative moments that follow, the disk of masa, in that magical interaction with just-right hot oil, puffs and crisps to a golden flaky shell while the moist interior finishes its cooking." UM...my stomach hurts...I need one in my belly right now. Thanks goodness for mexichef...he knew I was blogging about them and he decided to go ahead and get a batch cooking. Of course, I think it's actually because he peeked over my shoulder and saw me uploading the photos...and it made him hungry, too. Whatever the means...I'll take the ends! Mexichef is actually the one that usually makes the gorditas around here (his hands are the ones doing all the work in the pictures that follow)...he tries to get me to make them, but I beg off with the excuse that they taste so much better when he makes them. I just gather the fillings and get everything ready. That I can do. I try not to pay too much attention so that I can say I just don't know how to make them. He's knows it's a rouse, but...he lets me get away with it. Mexi doesn't use an actual "recipe" when he makes them...he basically pours masa harina into a bowl and adds warm water a little bit at a time until he has the correct consistency. It should be a slightly wet, but pliable dough. I'll go ahead and give you a Rick Bayless recipe for the dough...so you can have some confidence in "actual" amounts if you're making them for the first time...or just like to have a guide. Even easier, try to buy some from masa from your local Mexican Market if you can...it's so great! Choose any filling you like. You can use shredded meats, veggies, cheese, beans...any combo you choose. They are different every time around here. I'm not going to give an actual filling recipe, either...we just sort of improvise...you choose your favorites and let me know how it tastes! Gorditas (basic guide for making ~10 shells from Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless) 1 lb. fresh masa or 1 3/4 c. powdered masa harina mixed with 1 c. plus 2 Tbs. warm water +1/3 c. flour + a scant tsp. baking powder + 3/4 tsp. salt Begin by either using your fresh masa or mixing up your masa ingredients in a large bowl...use your hands so that you can feel the consistency. It should be about the consistency of a soft cookie dough. Knead it a few times so that it is pliable. Grab a small ball of dough (~1 3/4"-2") in your hands and form it into a disk that is just larger than 1/4" thick.Heat a comal (or large, heavy skillet or cast iron pan) over low to medium-low heat. Once it is very hot, add the masa disks and let them toast up and get brown spots on one side. Flip and repeat. Remove them to a plate until they are all done. Next, heat some vegetable oil (~1/2" deep) in a deep-sided pan until hot enough to fry (~350 degrees F). Add a few disks at a time and fry, turning once they are crisp on the bottom...it doesn't take long...maybe 30 seconds at the most per side. They will "puff" when ready. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. This is an alternate method...mexichef makes them this way sometimes. Instead of toasting them on the comal, he will just fry the dough directly if the mood strikes. If you do it this way, you need to make sure the disks are thinner, so that they can cook all the way through. He uses less oil this way...more of a saute. Drain the same way. Although they can work out this way, I recommend trying the other method your first time or two...just to familiarize yourself with end result.Once they are cool enough to handle, hold the gordita and make a slit through the side, cutting deep enough to form a pocket, but not all the way through the other side. (Okay, this is kind of like a pita. But a pita is not a gordita.) At this point you should have your fillings ready to pile in so that you can serve them while they are still warm and puffed and crispy on the outside, yet chewy on the inside. We happened to use a mixture of cannellini and red beans smashed with a homemade red blender salsa. I just smashed 'em all together and seasoned them to our liking.
We also used some shredded lettuce and chopped red onion. A tip for mellowing red onion (or any onion) and adding some extra, addictive flavor...just squeeze lime juice over it and toss. Seriously, you won't believe the difference it makes. The onion still has that delicious bite...but the lime juice adds this tang that changes the flavor profile. I also used queso fresco, as usual...because I love the saltiness it adds.
Hold open your gordita, add your "meatier" filling. Throw on some extra flavor. Top with crumbled queso & another drizzle of salsa and... RICOS!
So...earthy beans, heat from the salsa, fresh crisp lettuce, tangy & savory onion & salty queso fresco- that was an awesome combo! Like I said....the filling possibilities are endless. These are some that we made when we were using up pantry staples & leftovers from the fridge. Black beans w/ a little bit of reconstituted chiles & some basic shredded cheese. Easy, but tasty.
So...grab one of these little fat ones in your hand, hover over your plate and prepare to become addicted! Goodbye TB...Hello homemade!