Gorditas Filled with Chicken, Pickled Onion, and Cabbage

Gorditas Filled with Chicken, Pickled Onion, and Cabbage

Makes 12 gorditas; serves 4 to 6

 Why This Recipe Works: A gordita, literally meaning “little fat one” in Spanish, is a traditional Mexican dish that is often eaten as a midday snack. The puffy shells are opened like pockets and can be stuffed with a wide assortment of cheese, meat, vegetables, or other fillings.

Getting the cooking method right was essential to achieving the pocket that defines gorditas. Typically, the thick tortilla-like dough gets cooked twice: First, the flat tortillas are browned to develop flavor and achieve a crust on the exterior. Then, the tortillas are deep-fried. The moisture in the dough turns to steam, which expands and puffs the tortilla, creating a hollow pocket inside the gordita. The gorditas are then opened up and stuffed.

We started by making a thick corn tortilla using masa harina. Using just the right amount of water ensured a well-hydrated dough that wasn’t too dry and crumbly or too moist and sticky. After dividing the dough and pressing it into tortillas, we found that it was essential to smooth out the edges of the dough to eliminate any small cracks that had developed during flattening. This ensured that air got trapped in the tortillas during the frying step, which meant that they could puff properly.

We then turned our attention to cooking the tortillas. For the initial browning step, using a hot pan was important; the heat created a golden crust on the exterior before the interior had a chance to dry out. Next, we deep-fried the browned tortillas so that they puffed up nicely. The soft, almost creamy centers were perfectly complemented by the crisp, crunchy exteriors; a rich, flavorful filling completed our gorditas.

When smoothing out the edges of the flattened tortillas, make sure you press just enough to eliminate cracks, but not hard enough to form a rim. Be sure to use masa harina or Maseca Brand Instant Masa Corn Flour. We like to use a straight-sided sauté pan here because it makes frying the gorditas in step 5 a little easier; however, a 12‑inch skillet can be substituted.

1 small red onion, halved and sliced thin
2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed and sliced into thin rings
1 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper
3 cups shredded green cabbage
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest plus
1 tablespoon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and sliced thin
2 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (1/2 cup)

2 cups (8 ounces) masa harina
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups hot tap water
2 cups vegetable oil

1. FOR THE FILLING: Combine onion and jalapeños in medium bowl. Bring vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in small saucepan. Pour vinegar mixture over onion mixture and let sit for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Transfer 1/4 cup pickling liquid to second medium bowl, add cabbage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to combine.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in chile powder, garlic, oregano, lime zest, and pinch salt and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in broth and bring to simmer. Nestle chicken into sauce. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking.

3. Transfer chicken to carving board and let cool slightly. Using 2 forks, shred chicken into small pieces. Return sauce to high heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in shredded chicken, lime juice, and cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with avocado, pickled onion and cabbage, and queso fresco.

4. FOR THE GORDITAS: Mix masa harina and salt in medium bowl, then fold in water with rubber spatula. Using your hands, knead mixture in bowl until soft dough forms, 1 to 2 minutes. Cover dough with damp dish towel and let sit for 5 minutes.

5. Cut twenty-four 8‑inch squares of parchment paper. Knead dough briefly, then divide into 12 equal pieces, roll into balls, and place on baking sheet. Cover dough with damp dish towel.

6. Working with 1 piece dough at a time, press flat into 3 1/2‑inch-wide disk between 2 pieces parchment using pie plate.

Tacos, Tostadads, Sopes, and Tamales

Remove top piece parchment, gently push in edges to make slightly thicker and smooth out any cracks, then flatten slightly to level; edges should be smooth, flat, and slightly thicker than center.

Tacos, Tostadads, Sopes, and Tamales

Transfer to plate, leaving bottom piece parchment in place, and cover with damp dish towel; tortillas can be stacked.

7. Heat 11‑inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium heat until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Place 1 ­tortilla parchment side up in your palm, remove parchment, then gently lay tortilla in hot, dry pan; repeat with 2 more tortillas.

Tacos, Tostadads, Sopes, and Tamales

Cook until lightly golden on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking; transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas, lowering heat as needed to prevent scorching. (Gorditas can be stacked between parchment paper, wrapped in plastic wrap, and refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 3 months; thaw completely before continuing.)

8. Line second baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Carefully add oil to now-empty pan and heat over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Working in batches, fry tortillas, flipping often, until they puff, 2 to 3 minutes.

Tacos, Tostadads, Sopes, and Tamales

Transfer to prepared ­baking sheet and let cool slightly. Using paring knife, cut puffed tortillas open halfway around edge.

Tacos, Tostadads, Sopes, and Tamales

Stuff each tortilla with filling and serve.

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