Ham and Cheese Tortillas a la Parrilla
When I decided to put together a cookout menu that had an Argentinian tilt to it, one of the first things I thought of to grill up was beef served with chimichurri, which is something that would likely pop into a lot of people's minds to fill the need. I wanted to do something different than the short ribs I already had written about on this site, so was digging deeper to see if there was anything that might be unique enough to warrant a new recipe post. Somewhere along this journey, I came across tortillias a la parrilla rellano, or stuffed grilled tortillas. I was instantly captivated by this Northern Argentinian staple and wanted to give a try, so started with what seemed to be the most common stuffing—ham and cheese.
Tortillias a la parrilla come in both filled and non-filled varieties, but the dough seems to be the same for both. It's a dough that uses a lot of butter as the primary liquid, and while I saw some recipes that didn't add any water at all, I found I needed about three-quarters of cup for a proper dough ball to form. Once I had a cohesive dough, I kneaded it until smooth, and then let it rest. I rested mine in the fridge overnight because I made the dough a day early to best fit into my prep schedule.
The next day I divided the dough into four eqaul-ish pieces and quickly kneaded each of those into a ball and flattened them slightly to make rolling them out easier. I wasn't quite sure how big these were going to be, so I rolled the dough until the thickness and diameter felt right for a hand-held snack, and that was roughly 1/8-inch thick and 11 inches wide.
Next went on the filling, which was super easy with just a couple slices each of cheese and ham. I made sure those ingredients stayed within one half of the circle and they didn't go all the way to the edge because I needed room to seal and crimp the edges closed.
That process was essentially like making a giant empanada—after folding the dough into a half moon, I pressed the two edges closed first, then pinched and tucked the dough to create a nice crimped pattern all around. As I finished each tortilla, I placed them on a parchment-lined baking sheet so they wouldn't stick, even if they got a little tacky.
I had to do some experimentation on the best way to cook these because I needed to ensure both the dough cooked and the cheese melted before the exterior charred too much. I started the tortillas on the cool side of a two-zone fire, but they cooked a bit too slow when placed that far from the coals. So I moved them closer to the fire, but still not directly over it, and then allowed the dough to cook until it released from the grates easily, but before a lot of browning started to occur.
I flipped and moved the tortillas around as necessary for even cooking, and then once the dough seemed to be almost done is when I slid them over to the hot side of the grill. The outside browned and blackened in spots quickly at this point, so I kept a watchful eye and continued to move and flip these a lot to ensure I didn't scorch them to death.
As I served these up to my guests, I jokingly was asking everyone if they would like a Hot Pocket, but that really was selling these short. I mean, there's nothing earth shattering here, they are just ham and cheese in bread, but that is such a comforting combo that it's bound to be a hit. What elevated these was their grilled exterior—the char and crispness brought in elements you would associate with a really good pizza into the fold. Still, saying these are akin to a calzone is not right—these tortillias a la parrilla are their own unique thing and they're not that difficult to make, so are definitely worth giving a try to fully experience.
Ham and Cheese Tortillas a la Parrilla
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 30 Minutes
- Inactive 1 Hour
- Cook 10 Minutes
- Total 1 Hour 40 Minutes
- For the Dough
- 500 grams all purpose flour (4 cups)
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3/4 cup water, plus more as needed
- For the Tortillas
- 8-12 slices deli ham
- 8 slices provolone cheese
- To make the dough: Place flour and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add in butter and water. Using a rubber spatula, wooden spoon, or hands, mix until a shaggy ball forms. If a dough ball is not forming, add in additional water, one tablespoon at a time, until a ball forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 4 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
- To make the tortillas: Remove dough from refrigerator, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll one piece of dough out into a circle roughly 1/8-inch thick and 11-inches in diameter. Arrange 2 slices of cheese on half of the dough, tearing and overlapping cheese as necessary to leave about a 1-inch clear edge around dough. Arrange 2 to 3 slices of ham on top of cheese, again tearing and overlapping as necessary. Fold clear half over dough over ham and cheese, press edges of dough together to seal, and crimp shut with fingers or the tines of a fork. Transfer tortilla to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining pieces of dough and filling ingredients.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Place two tortillas close to, but not directly over, the fire. Grill until dough begins to cook and easily releases from the grates. Flip tortillas over and continue to grill until second side cooks and easily releases from the grates.
- Move tortillas to hot side of grill and cook, flipping and moving occasionally, until dough browns and chars in spots. Remove tortillas from grill and serve immediately. Repeat cooking with remaining 2 tortillas.