A football-shaped or oval masa pocket, commonly filled with puréed beans, favas, or other pulses and topped with cheese, crema, salsa, and/or onions with cilantro; looks like a diminutive, stuffed huarache
ROOTS: Mexico (Estado de México, Hidalgo, Puebla)
FORMAT: Stuffer and topper
COOKING METHOD: Comal or fried
I love a chewy, crispy crust (sometimes called bark) with a contrasting molten center.
Traditionally, lard is incorporated into the masa to achieve this texture. While that’s delicious, I don’t find it necessary. If using fat, like asiento or vegetable oil, I recommend beginning with 10 percent fat weight of total masa weight (1:10 ratio). If you plan to shape and then immediately freeze tlacoyos, a bit of fat mixed into the masa will help preserve their integrity through the eventual thaw. And if you do incorporate fat, note that it will darken the color of the masa when cooked.
Many pros in Mexico can shape these entirely by hand; others may use a tortilla press so expertly that they can flatten the filled masa into perfect, oval-shaped submission. I am particularly inept at shaping most doughs, so I do a hybrid press-and-fold approach.
Comal: Preheat the comal to medium-high heat. Roll a ping-pong-size ball (about 11⁄2 in [4 cm]) of Table Tortilla Masa. Press into a tortilla, remove the top plastic liner, and spread a bit of filling across the center.
To shape the tlacoyo, lift the bottom plastic liner to fold the left side of the tortilla halfway across itself. Repeat on the right side. You should now have a somewhat symmetrical, partially closed rectangular-shaped taco of sorts. Again using the bottom plastic liner, fold the upper corners over, creating a somewhat pointed tip on both ends. At this point, I slightly flatten the seams enough to ensure that they don’t burst open during cooking—but not too much, because I kinda like the complexity of texture that they add.
Lower the comal to medium heat. Place the tlacoyo seam-side up on the comal. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes per side, until cooked through the center with a slight char on each side. You can test for doneness with a cake tester if you’d like, though I prefer testing by feel. When pressed down, the tlacoyo shouldn’t give or bounce much—it should feel like a well-done steak, indicating a dense interior. No fat is needed, but a little bit applied directly to the tlacoyo toward the last minute of cooking is never something I regret. I’ll use whatever I have around, from bacon fat to schmaltz to ghee. These are best served warm.
Fried: For best results, parcook the tlacoyo on the comal for 1 to 2 minutes per side. The reduced moisture prevents bubbling and ruptures and allows for a crispier finish on the exterior. Heat 2 in [5 cm] of oil to 350°F [180°C] and deep-fry the tlacoyo for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. It should be crisp on the outside and moist, molten, and steamy on the inside.
Storage: A fresh comal-prepared tlacoyo is best enjoyed immediately, but may be stored (without toppings) for up to 7 days refrigerated or 1 year frozen. A little bit of water rubbed on either side of the tlacoyo will help replenish any moisture lost during storage, prior to reheating with a comal.
Reprinted from Masa by Jorge Gaviria with permission from Chronicle Books, 2022. Photographs © Graydon Herriott.
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