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Basic Masa for Tortillas, Quesadillas, Sopes, and More

Makes enough for 12 sopes, 18 (5-inch) tortillas, or 12 quesadillas

Mexican cooks have access to fresh masa, made from dry corn and lime, at their small local tortilleras. Although it doesnt have quite the same authentic flavor, masa made from dry masa harina (such as that made by Maseca) is easy to make, economical, and works just as well. The following recipe makes a plain masa, but you can play with the basic recipe by adding a small amount of dried ground chiles, minced garlic, chopped herbs, ground spices such as cumin, or whatever else you fancy. In fact, you can even add food coloring to make your masa bright pink, yellow, or purple, as Mexicans sometimes do for fiestas. Or check out the Masa Verde recipe, which adds the color and flavor of pureed herbs. Masa is easy to work with. If made properly, its not sticky, and its forgiving because it has no gluten and cannot be overworked. An inexpensive tortilla press is a useful tool. Line the press with squares cut from a crinkly plastic bag and practice pressing out the dough to the desired thickness. The masa can be gathered up and pressed again and again until you are satisfied.
3 cups dry masa harina (preferably Maseca brand) 2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 cups lukewarm water, plus more as needed 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly to form a smooth, damp dough that does not stick to your hands. If the dough feels too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and work it in with your hands; the dough should be the consistency of playdough. Divide the masa into portions as needed for your recipe and proceed as directed. Keep the dough covered with a dry towel while you work. The amount of water you need will vary. The masa is too dry if it cracks around the edges when pressed. If this happens, reform the ball, dip two ngers into water, and work the water into the masa. VARIATION Add 1 tablespoon ground ancho chile to the dry masa before mixing.

Masa Verde
JALAPEO-CILANTRO MASA
Makes enough for 12 sopes, 18 (5-inch) tortillas, or 12 quesadillas

Use this masa as you would the Basic Masa. Once cooked, it is supple and fragrant.
3 jalapeo chiles, stemmed and seeded 1 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped 1 clove garlic 2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 cups water, or more as needed cup vegetable oil 3 cups dry masa harina (preferably Maseca brand)

Put the jalapeos in a food processor and pulse until nely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. Add the cilantro and garlic and salt to the food processor and pulse until nely chopped. Add 1 cup of the water and process to a puree. Add the cilantro mixture to the jalapeos in the bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup of water and the oil and stir to combine. Place the masa harina in a mixing bowl. Add the cilantro mixture all at once and mix thoroughly to form a smooth, damp dough that does not stick to your hands. If the dough feels too dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, and work it in with your hands; the dough should be the consistency of playdough. Divide the masa into portions as needed for your recipe and proceed as directed. Keep the dough covered with a dry towel while you work.