DIY tor­tillas take time. Th­ese bean-topped corn cakes don’t

Austin American-Statesman - - THE PLANNER - By Joe Yo­nan For the Wash­ing­ton Post

When I think of corn and beans, I nat­u­rally think of Mex­ico, where they — along with chili pep­pers — form the bedrock of the cui­sine. The corn is typ­i­cally in the form of masa, made into such de­lights as tor­tillas, tamales, tostadas and the rimmed masa boats called sopes.

Mak­ing masa from scratch isn’t for the lazy. It in­volves treat­ing dried field corn with slaked lime, wash­ing and grind­ing. When I tried to do it a few years ago with my sis­ter and brother-in-law in south­ern Maine, us­ing corn they grew, it took much trial and er­ror - not to men­tion time - to get the tex­ture right for mak­ing tor­tillas. At home in Wash­ing­ton, I do what so many house­holds in Mex­ico do, and use in­stant masa ha­rina. The re­sult­ing tor­tillas don’t ap­proach the ideal, but they’re way bet­ter than store-bought.

Even in­stant-masa tor­tillas, though, take some dex­ter­ity (and prac­tice), which is why when I’m rushed for time I like mak­ing some­thing a lit­tle more free-form and for­giv­ing. I press masa balls with my hand into flat (but not su­per-thin) disks, then pan-fry them in a lit­tle oil so they get crispy on the edges but stay soft in­side. From Jes­sica Mur­nane’s new book, “One Part Plant,” I got an­other idea: to mix the dough first with fresh (or frozen and de­frosted) corn ker­nels, giv­ing them even more color, tex­ture and a burst of fla­vor.

What to top them with? Choose your fa­vorite com­bi­na­tion of pro­tein, cheese, spice and crunchy veg­etable, think­ing of the ways you might fill a taco or top a tostada. In my mind, though, there’s one musthave: beans.

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