Corn tortillas: what am I doing wrong?

Last week I made Diana Kennedy's carnitas recipe as posted here on the site to great success. They were flat out amazing. I bought corn tortillas to go with but they were sub par at best. At worst, they were dry, crumbly, and kind of fell apart.
What's your best method for moist, pliable corn tortillas? I am leery of quickly frying them - seems counterproductive, and I'm worried about them being greasy via this method - so i ran them quickly under warm water and nuked them in a stack covered by a damp towel.
Thanks for any guidance! After wrestling with a couple tortillas apiece my husband and I abandoned them altogether and ate the carnitas directly from the pot. Could have been worse, I suppose, but I know I'm missing something.

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dymnyno
dymnyno November 14, 2011

I am not sure what part of the country you live in, but it is important to buy fresh tortillas, which can be easy if you are in the right place. Here, in the Napa valley, it is easy to watch someone making the tortillas for you, or , they are delivered fresh each day in many groceries and the package is still warm! I think there is a date on the package, like bread, so you know when they were made. Left unwrapped, corn tortillas dry out very quickly. There is a round container sold in most groceries that is a "tortilla keeper". It's insulated and keeps the tortillas moist until used.

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weekend at bearnaise
weekend at bearnaise November 14, 2011

Thanks for your reply. I live in the country in upstate New York so I don't think I have access to the fresh tortillas you describe. Never considered that to be the problem - definitely something to keep in mind.

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Helen's All Night Diner
Helen's All Night Diner November 14, 2011

I am able to buy fresh corn tortillas in my local supermarket in MA. They come in a ziptop bag, which is handy. As I use them, I run them quickly over a gas flame on the stove. This makes them pliable and doesn't dry them out too much. If you are doing a bunch of them, put them into a covered casserole dish... Hope this helps!

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aargersi
aargersi November 14, 2011

If I am using store-bought, I wrap them in foil and put them in a warm oven. If they seem at all dry I will sometime give them the barest spritz of water. The best solution is to make them - it is SUPER easy - just masa and water (we add a little lime) press and toast. The tricky part might be finding a tortilla press in your neck of the woods ...

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Stephanie G
Stephanie G November 14, 2011

My husband always holds corn tortillas over an open flame, but I am more cautious and lay them on the warm comal or cast iron skillet. You really have to heat them first unless you are making them or they will tear and break when you fold them.

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weekend at bearnaise
weekend at bearnaise November 14, 2011

Thanks all! Great tips. I'll ditch the microwave and go for either the warm oven or skillet method.

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