I haven’t made gorditas in years and I’m not quite sure why. I always loved them as a kid and their open faced counterpart, the sope or sopito. Thick corn tortillas cooked on a griddle, then sliced open, deep fried and stuffed full of meat, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and cheese was heaven on a plate. Hearty and delicious fare that filled me up and made me sleepy afterwards. I love all the textures and flavors of them, the crispy thickness of the dense corn tortilla, the chewiness of meat, the soft beans and the freshness of the cold vegetables. My mouth is watering writing this and I’ve just finished one! And yes, I am laughing at myself…
Gorditas can be filled with just about anything. Beans, meat, chicharrones in green chile – the possibilities and variations are endless. Today I am making them stuffed with ground pork, refried beans with cheese and the chopped tomato, onion and cilantro mix I love so much. I made salsa de molcajete too and I know my son Phillip will add a dollop of crema and sprinkle his with a little queso cotija like he always does. Any way you have them, they are so good. Decadent good.
Some of that decadence comes from LARD. Yes, that’s right I said LARD. Look, you can add vegetable shortening or olive oil or whatever you like to try and make a healthier alternative and it will work, even be good but there is no substitute for the piggy taste of lard. You don’t make gorditas every day, heck I haven’t made them in years so my philosophy is this: if you’re gonna do it – do it up right. Use the lard! It’s just a bit and sure, it will clog your arteries a bit but add a bit more chile to burn it out. Live a little and then put away the recipe for a year or two.
My grandmother made gorditas like no one else could. Her swift hands made fast work of forming them while some of us used a tortilla press to get them perfectly round and of equal thickness. Her hands worked gracefully, almost in musical rhythm and she never missed a beat. Her gorditas were perfectly round, all uniform in size and all of the same thickness. I still can’t do that, though I get the taste just right. Watching her was like watching a magician and I would sit on my little red chair with my elbows on the table, chin in hands just admiring and daydreaming of the day I’d be standing at that stove making perfect bits of delicious roundness.
Well, I never could get them as perfect as hers anymore than I can get all the peel off an orange in one long curl like she did but they sure taste like hers and eating them again makes me all the more determined to get it right next time without using a tortilla press. Some things never change though and when I see my grandchildren watching me at the stove, I know they are daydreaming of being the one at the stove making magic.
For the masa:
2 cups Maseca (corn flour)
1/4 cup white flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/3 tsp of salt
1 1/2 cup of warm water
1/4 cup of lard (or vegetable shortening)
Mix the maseca, the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Add the lard or shortening and the warm water. Mix until the dough is smooth and can be formed into a ball. Divide into balls and keep covered with a damp cloth.
Either using a tortilla press or shaping with your hands, make the gorditas in about a 4 inch diameter about 1/4 inch thick.
Heat the gorditas on a hot griddle or comal until cooked on each side.
Slice each cooked gordita almost to the end but keeping it together, forming a kind of pocket. Some people don’t make the cut until it’s fried, but I like the insides crispy too.
Deep fry the gorditas in oil until golden brown and drain on paper towels.
Stuff the pockets with any filling you like. Beans, shredded beef, carnitas, chicharonnes in green salsa, queso fresco, scrambled eggs with nopales, etc.