Food You Can Eat: Flour Tortillas with Rendered Fat


I came of age during the second wave of food television. Expanding on the groundwork laid by cooking show grand-matriarch Julia Child, the first wave of Food Network stars, including Emeril Lagassee, Bobby Flay, and Jacques Pepin, set the mold for viable food-centric programming and helped create an empire in the early 1990s. By the time I was a senior in high school, Food Network shows had begun to shift from the style of Emeril Live! — one chef preparing several dishes on an expansive kitchen set in front of a live audience — to a wider and more entertaining portfolio including intimate and personality-driven recipe shows, the reality-tv/game show drama of Iron Chef America, and globe trotting ‘Food Tourism’ series, where a charismatic chef might show the audience a beautiful Italian countryside while on the hunt for exotic mushrooms to add to their signature risotto. It was during this period that I got hooked.

There was a time when 90% of my TV watching involved Food Network shows. I had the afternoon lineup memorized. Tyler Florence, Brunch with Bobby, Iron Chef America, then Alton Brown’s magnum opus, Good Eats. At the time I was attending college and living off-campus with no dining plan. Because I had to buy groceries anyway, I decided to see if I could put these recipes and techniques I was watching for entertainment to practical use. The Food Network essentially taught me how to cook, and cooking has evolved into one of my favorite personal hobbies. I learned from Alton Brown that nearly any dish can be analyzed and reverse-engineered. Brown also taught me the importance of a well-equipped pantry, and the value of keeping homemade stock and rendered fat on hand. Good food relies far more on the preparedness of the cook than specialized equipment or highly refined technique. These lessons have produced dividends over and over in the 15 or so years I’ve been doing this whole cooking thing. The most recent example being homemade flour tortillas.

If the era of Iron Chef America was the second wave of food TV, it can be argued that we’re currently existing in the third. The Food Network itself has become overrun with reality competition programming, while cooking and recipe videos have shifted to YouTube, with viral amateur stars taking the spotlight from established celebrity chefs restaurateurs. The current vanguard of food programming includes the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen crew, from which this recipe is adapted.


  • 2 tbs rendered fat (beef, bacon, pork shoulder, goose fat, shmaltz, etc.) melted
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1¼ cups whole milk, divided
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface


  • Bring oil, ¾ cup milk, and reserved 2 tbs fat to a simmer in a small saucepan (be careful not to boil); immediately remove from heat. Whisk baking powder, salt, and 3 cups flour in a medium bowl to combine. Pour in hot milk mixture and remaining ½ cup milk. Mix with your hands (careful, it’ll be hot!) until a shaggy dough forms.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Wrap in plastic and let rest at room temperature 1 hour to relax dough.

Dough can be stored in fridge or freezer. Be sure to thaw fully before using. To make a tortilla, pinch off a section of dough and roll into a ball roughly the size of a ping pong ball. Lightly flour a flat surface and rolling pin and roll out into 1/8th inch disc. Cook your disc in a preheated, ungreased skillet or griddle until dark brown spots form, about 2 minutes per side. Pierce any large bubbles that form to release steam. I like to make tortillas 2-3 at a time for however many tacos I want at the moment, returning the unused dough to the fridge. If you are making tortillas for a crowd, cook in batches and stack them in a warm oven with a damp cloth for covering once they come off the heat. These come out supple, chewy, and satisfying, and provide a much different experience than store-bought tortillas. Fill with whatever your heart desires. Happy quarant-eating!



  1. …I have to admit to buying rather than making tortillas & always feeling a degree of guilt because at heart I know they can’t be that much effort to make if one applies oneself…so there’s a good chance I’ll give this effort a whirl at some point

    …& since one food turn deserves another _ your timeline looks to make him positively pre-historic I figured I’d ask if I’m the only one around here who remembers this guy?

    …not to condone or espouse an existence that resembles functional alcoholism but Floyd’s wine-for-me, wine-for-the-food, wine-for-me approach does have something to recommend it…or it could be that’s just me?

  2. This a thousand times: “Brown also taught me the importance of a well-equipped pantry”. What that means has changed as the people I feed have changed. Son is now an adult with his own family, father who lived with us passed away. But it makes me happy to have stock or capers or raspberry shrub on hand. Great post.

  3. Once you get a taste for homemade tortillas it’s hard to let go. I regularly make corn tortillas – I hate rolling shit out, which is why I do corn. Corn can be a little finicky, dough-wiise, so I got a tortilla press. Also, by chance, I rendered my own pork fat for the first time the other daay and it was easy as fuck and worked great. I didn’t use it in the tortillas though…

    In case anyone is interested, homemade corn tortillas actually are a little more like flour tortillas than the corn ones you buy – more pliable, softer, don’t really break very easily.

    • This is just weird, I took a bag of leaf fat out of the freezer to render today. Did you use a crock pot? I’ve used the oven before but it took a long time.

      I’ve got alot of masa so corn tortillas it is.

      • I got into rendering fat after buying a meat grinder attachment for our stand mixer. If we buy a fatty cut of meat, I’ll cut off trimmings and run them through the grinder, then let those render over low heat. I usually use the saute function of my Instant Pot, but I bet the stovetop would work as well (I’m basically following the method here “”). I’ll also try to save drippings from any slow-roasted dishes we make. I have a bunch of goose fat in the the freezer that came from a whole roasted goose I made on Valentine’s day.

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