I would like to know why no one ever told me how easy it is to make gorditas. Had I known this, these would always have been part of our regular week-night meal rotation. These little masa cakes get a dent in their tops to hold whatever you wish from refried beans and sour cream to shredded grilled chicken and salsa. Hot off the stove, they’re slightly crisp on the surface and delicate on the inside with great corn flavor. I kept this recipe from last November’s issue of Food and Wine and followed it precisely for total quantity and size of each gordita. As soon as I realized how easy the dough is to make and how simple each gordita is to form, I started planning to make mini versions for parties and off my mind wondered to all the possible toppings for them. For this first batch ever, I had a salsa in mind to pair with them. A few weeks ago, Kurt and I had dinner at La Condesa here in Austin, and we quite enjoyed the duck with mole negro sauce. We also enjoyed the chips and salsa as usual, but what you get at La Condesa is organic chips and four different fresh, house-made salsas. I dutifully and carefully tasted each salsa in an attempt to choose a favorite and then asked our server for the recipe of the one I picked. I was sure he would tell me no, but instead he went straight to the kitchen and came back with an ingredient list. I had to figure out exact quantities for myself, which was easy enough, and that’s the salsa shown here. I’ll include my version of the recipe below.
To make delicious, homemade gorditas, all you have to do is combine masa harina, water, and vegetable oil and stir it together to form a dough. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a log about ten inches long. This doesn’t need to be perfect at all because you will cut disks that are then formed into cakes. You cut ten disks from the log of dough and press each into a three inch biscuit cutter to mold round cakes. The cakes can be refrigerated overnight in an airtight container if you want to prep them in advance. When you’re ready to cook them, heat a griddle or cast iron skillet over high heat. Cook the gorditas for two minutes on each side to brown them in spots, and then remove them to a baking sheet and press an indentation in each with the back of a spoon. Last, you heat some oil in a skillet and fry the gorditas for two minutes per side to crisp them. Drain on paper towels, and then top them as you wish.
Our toppings included refried black beans, sour cream, shredded queso quesadilla, sliced jalapenos, shredded chicken, chopped tomatoes, diced avocado, and roasted tomatillo chipotle salsa. We didn’t really talk during this meal, but we smiled and nodded a lot. The salsa was smoky and velvety smooth since it was pureed with olive oil, and the gorditas were crisp, tender, perfect vehicles for the toppings. I don’t know why I didn’t learn sooner, but now that I know about these, I’ll be making a lot of them.
Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa
inspired by La Condesa
2-3 chipotles in adobo depending on size and how spicy you want your salsa to be, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from can
1 large red onion
12 tomatillos, husks removed and washed
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for roasting
Salt and pepper to taste
-Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Chop onion into wedges and place on a baking sheet with tomatillos, and drizzle with olive and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and browned.
-Transfer roasted vegetables to a food processor and add chipotles and adobo sauce. Puree until smooth and then slowly add olive oil while the machine is running. Taste for salt and add more if needed.