What exactly is a Gordita?

Explanations | September 2, 2016 | By

You have seen them at your local Taco Bell as combo item #10, stuffed with shredded lettuce, a “taco” shell, shredded cheddar cheese, and a ground “beef” mix designed to resemble picadillo. If you’ve been stoned in the last 15 years, you’ve probably even eaten a few. The Taco Bell gordita isn’t necessarily horrible. It’s adequate post-bar food. It’s not a gordita though. That’s a flatbread. Hell, their “chalupa” better resembles Navajo frybread than a Mexican chalupa, but I digress.
Perhaps you’ve wondered about gorditas and where they come from. After all, very few taquerias in the United States have them on their menus. They’re certainly not as prevalent as the carne asada burrito, quesadillas, or tacos of any sort. I’m here to tell you what a gordita is and ought to be.

Let’s start with the name; gordita. What we’re really talking about here is a tortilla gordita or a fat little tortilla. Instead of the normal thickness of a corn or flour tortilla (0.5mm to 2mm), gorditas tend to be 6-12mm thick. Hold on, let me get a ruler… that’s a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Basically, the goal with a gordita is to make a glorious little pocket and stuff it with a guisado (geese-AH-doh). Guisados are fillings for tacos, burritos etc. Guisados generally refer to stewed proteins, but let’s just think of them as fillings/toppings.

Gorditas have quite a few variations, they are:

Gorditas de maiz – corn, half-cooked on a comal (griddle) or plancha (flat top) then split open on one edge to make a pocket, filled with a guisado, and returned to the cooking surface before serving.

Corn and flour gorditas.

Corn and flour gorditas, filled with carne con chile, chicharron and picadillo.

Gorditas de harina – made from a flour dough – cooked in the same fashion as corn gorditas. A variation you may see is the pizzagorda which is simply an oversized gordita.

Gorditas al carbon – corn gorditas, usually pre-stuffed with their guisado, then cooked until toasty over a charcoal grill. The best gorditas al carbon are brushed with lard or butter to get everything golden and crispy.

Gorditas al carbon with a spicy red salsa.

Gorditas al carbon with a spicy red salsa.

Gorditas infladas – literally, inflated gorditas. These are corn gorditas, fried in hot oil. The puff up (like a tortilla or pita bread) when they get hot quickly. The cavity created by puffing up is then stuffed with a filling along with lettuce, tomato, onion, and occasionally a bit of a dry cheese like añejo or cotija. Generally gorditas infladas are a sold at night.

Gorditas al vapor – steamed gorditas. Basically, a ton of corn gorditas are prepared with various fillings, then stacked like tacos al vapor, and steamed until they are fully cooked.

Steamed gorditas are usually a quick bite on the street, presentation is not usually a priority for vendors.

Steamed gorditas are usually a quick bite on the street, presentation is not usually a priority for vendors.

Gorditas de cocedor – baked gorditas. These break the mold. Instead of the disc-shaped gorditas shared by all of the above, they are more of a bread/biscuit with a filling. The most common fillings are rajas con queso (poblano peppers with cheese) and chicharron (pork rinds).

In addition to all of these, you can find whole wheat gorditas for health nuts and sweet gorditas as well. Effectively, if an ingredient gets used in Mexican cuisine, you can bet someone is making gorditas with it. Down the line, I’ll make sure to provide instructions on how to make each of the main types of gorditas. If there’s another kind of gordita you have seen or have questions, let me know!

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