Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How To Warm Corn Tortillas

This summer I made it my quest to find a decent packaged corn tortilla. We tried a number of different brands with varying ingredients, and all of them were disappointing. No matter how fresh the package indicated they were, all of them had a rubbery texture, and many of them crumbled in half when folded for a taco.

Then, my husband suggested we try warming the tortillas. It was as if lighting had struck--I don't know why we hadn't thought of this before!

There are a number of ways you can warm corn tortillas--here are a few in the order of my preference:

1.) Heating in a cast iron skillet. I've had great success with this, and its simple and not very messy. I warm the skillet with a bit of olive oil, and heat each side of the tortilla for 30 seconds - 1 minute depending on how warm it feels and how crispy I want them. As each tortilla is heated, I place them in a stack on a plate, wrapped individually in paper towels to keep the heat in. The paper towels also absorb any excess oil. If you have a tortilla warmer (typically a round burnt-orange plastic container like those seen at restaurants), you can use that as well.

This method greatly improved the taste and texture of the tortillas and they did not fall apart when folded for tacos.

2.) Steaming. This is Chef Rick Bayless' preferred method, and seems like it would be better if you have to heat a large number of tortillas at a time (say, for more than 2 people). Bayless describes the method here.

3.) Toaster Oven. This method is nice if you're warming tortillas for just one person or if you like your tortillas extra crispy.

4.) Microwave. Some cooks like to wrap their tortillas in damp paper towels and then microwave. I have not tried this method but in a pinch I'm sure it would be better than a straight-from-the-fridge tortilla.

In conclusion, if you love corn tortillas but haven't had success with them at home, give warming them a try!

Photo credit: Gringologue