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What is a traditional Gordita?
You’re searching for the answer to this question because you’re curious about the delicious Taco Bell gorditas (which are super Americanized), or were served traditional Mexican gorditas at a restaurant or by a friend. Well dear reader, I’ve been working with Mexican foods for years and I can answer this question for you!
A traditional gordita is a ‘chubby’ taco-like food that is made by baking or frying a thick disk of masa harina cornmeal dough that is filled with meat, cheese, beans, or a combination of ingredients, then topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, queso fresco or cotija cheeses, and salsa.
I’ll be answering some other commonly asked questions about gorditas, such as if they are healthy and how to cook them properly in the paragraphs below, so if you’re curious keep reading- I have more to share!
Gorditas can be cooked by toasting them on cast iron or by being deep fried. Some great cooks do both-first toasting, then a quick fry, which I think creates the best flavor of all. Other great cooks will mix additional ingredients into the masa harina dough, such as cheese or potato. I think this creates a superior tasting gordita that no Taco Bell can match! I’ve designed my gordita recipe to incorporate these techniques (down below at the end of this article) for you to try at home.
What are Mexican gorditas made of?
Masa harina is the main ingredient used to make the taco-like chubby gordita; plus any number of delicious savory fillings can be stuffed inside such as refried beans, various meats, chiles, cheeses and vegetables. I mentioned some of this in the paragraph above.
Masa harina consists of finely ground nixtamalized cornmeal; ‘nixtamalized’ meaning corn kernels soaked in lime (the chemical, not the juice) altering the flavor and texture, then they are drained, dried, and ground.
Nixtamalized cornmeal (masa harina) is also used to make corn tortillas and tamales, so it should taste very familiar to you if you are already familiar with Mexican food. If you’ve never had the chance to taste a freshly made corn tortilla hot off the comal, you should. It doesn’t even compare to store bought. especially if it’s lightly fried and sprinkled with a dash of salt. That’s my favorite way to enjoy them when I make them at home.
How to make gorditas with Maseca?
Maseca is the most commonly trusted and available nixtamalized corn meal brand available in the United States. Making gorditas with Maseca is very very easy. Let me explain how.
Gordita dough, tamale dough, and corn tortilla dough all start out the same way; simply mix dry maseca with water (or broth) and knead it by hand for a few minutes to create a soft dough (called masa) with a ‘playdough’ like consistency. The ratio is approximately 2 cups dry maseca to 1 and 1/2 cups of liquid. That’s it!
(I’m talking about a freshly opened package of playdough, not the dried up old stuff you find in your carpet or in a kids bedroom!)
So many people stress over whether they have mixed their dough correctly. Take it from me- DON’T! You can always adjust by adding more cornmeal or liquid if you think you need to. But it will taste and cook about the same even if you’re off a little with your dough. So don’t worry about it!
As I mentioned earlier, some people will customize their gordita masa by adding Mexican cheeses like cotija, or all-purpose flour and baking soda for a lighter version, or mashed potatoes, or pureed red chile sauce! You are free to experiment with what you like and customize your gordita masa however you like.
There is NO GLUTEN in Maseca, so you can knead it forever and it won’t get tough. So have fun with it! Enjoy the feeling of it in your hands as you mush it through your fingers. Eventually you’ll get that nice smooth dough ball that doesn’t stick to clean dry fingers.
Why didn’t my gorditas puff up?
There could be two reasons why your gorditas didn’t puff up- you’ve got to have adequate moisture and heat to achieve the steam inside to puff the gordita.
Steam within the masa is the key to getting gorditas to puff up. If you ended up mixing your gordita masa too dry, (or it sat out uncovered for too long), it won’t have the necessary moisture to create steam inside and puff up the gorditas when placed in hot oil.
Speaking of hot oil, that’s the other reason your gorditas may not be puffing up. If your oil isn’t hot enough it won’t create the steam needed inside the gordita to puff. If you don’t have a food thermometer to test your oil- use the wooden handle test- simply place the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil. If it bubbles vigorously right away, it’s ready. If you are getting just a few bubbles, the oil is not hot enough.
Are Gorditas Healthy?
It depends on how the gordita was cooked and what is stuffed inside.
Gorditas that are just cooked on a comal (not fried) and filled with, say, beans and vegetables then topped with fresh ingredients like salsa, lettuce and tomato, would be fairly healthy. Like most recipes, gorditas can be slimmed down to a ‘skinny’ or ‘light’ version.
But if your gordita has been fried in oil and is stuffed with cheese and chicharrones (fried pork fat), you’re not going to be losing any inches off that waistline by enjoying this type of gordita. (But boy would that be delicious!)
Making easy gorditas (featuring Hatch Chile beef filling)
The filling is made first, and the toppings prepared before the gorditas. That way you can stuff the filling into hot, freshly fried gorditas, which taste the best!
Mix masa harina, cotija cheese (I didn’t have any so queso fresco was substituted) mashed potatoes and warm chicken broth by hand for the masa. The additional cheese, potatoes and chicken broth add so much delicious flavor!
Next, shape dough into large dough balls and flatten into a ‘chubby’ disk with parchment paper and a heavy plate, measuring cup, or skillet. You can shape them by hand but that takes some practice!
Toast/roast the chubby disks of gordita dough on a comal or in a cast iron skillet until spotty golden/dark brown in spots.
Then a quick dip in some hot frying oil to cook further, add more flavor and a little ‘puff’ to make it easier to cut the gorditas open and stuff!
Carefully slice open a freshly fried gordita on it’s edge to create a pocket for the filling.
Stuff the gorditas with your prepared Hatch chile ground beef, queso fresco, and the other usual taco toppings. Take your first bite and experience the unique crunch and taste of a true Mexican gordita! Making gorditas easy and fun ;0)
What are Hatch Chile Peppers?
Hatch Chile peppers are world famous for their delicious flavors, produced by the unique climate and soil composition that exists only in the Hatch Valley of Southern New Mexico. These factors combine to grow exceptional-tasting chile peppers with smoky, sweet, and hot flavor notes. More people discover Hatch Chiles each year, and their popularity continues to grow.
Growing up in New Mexico where chile peppers are an integral part of the culture, I know that Hatch chiles have earned a reputation for being the best of the best. I personally only use authentic Hatch in all my cooking because it simply tastes amazing. You should be able to find canned Hatch chile in any supermarket these days, or you can order it directly like I do. Frozen chile is much, much better tasting than canned!
The Hatch Chile Store is the premiere website for ordering your Hatch chile– they are incredibly good at shipping fresh authentic chile right to your door, whatever variety and hotness lever you prefer. It’s where I get all my Hatch Chile, and I must say the flavor really does stand out above any other chile pepper variety.
Head on over now to The Hatch Chile Store to stock up on the most delicious Hatch chile you can buy anywhere- they’ve always got great deals on your favorite products!
Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!
Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!Print