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Cookware

Finding a grinder that works for masa

zora | Jan 21, 200210:15 PM     10

I went in to Sur La Table several months ago, and talked to a clerk about needing a better way to grind lime-treated corn (nixtamal) to make fresh masa. I've been using my Cuisinart, and it really struggles--I have to re-grind small batches several times to get it fine enough for tortillas. I explained the process of partially cooking the corn first, then removing the gelatinized hull before grinding. The clerk recommended a grain mill attachment for my Kitchen-Aid mixer, assuring me it was the perfect solution. I bought the thing (it was over $100), and put it away for a long time before trying it.

When I went to make tamales at Christmas time, I partially cooked a couple of pounds of dried field corn in water with cal (calcium oxide), laboriously rubbed off the hulls under the tap, and hooked the new grain mill to the Kitchen-Aid's power take-off. I put in a small amount of corn, turned it on, and after spitting out about a teaspoon of masa, the thing siezed up and quit. I took it apart, and the grinding wheel was totally clogged. I cleaned it well, tried again. Same. When all else fails, read the instructions--which said that the grain mill was for dry grain only. I briefly considered trying to dry out the nixtamal in the oven, and then gave up that idea--this was simply the wrong tool for the task. I ended up grinding the batch bit by bit in the Cuisinart again. If I ever want to, I can grind wheat or dried corn with the grain mill, but I feel like I got burned by bad advice.

I was in a Latin market the other day looking at a hand-cranked, tinned metal Corona "corn mill." None of the store clerks knew enough about it to assure me that it could be used to grind partially cooked corn. Any 'hounds out there have experience with the Corona Mill, who can offer advice? I have no reasonable access to a tortilleria for fresh masa, so to have the sabor autentico I crave, I must make my own. And I don't have the time or energy to use a metate.

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