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What happened to my tortillas?

Last night I made cheese enchiladas from a recipe I got from this site - http://www.elise.com/recipes/

I followed the directions exactly, frying the corn tortillas in a little bit of oil before assembling the enchiladas, so I was extremely disappointed when I took the dish out of the oven and went to serve it - the tortillas had all but disintegrated.

What went wrong? Are corn tortillas not the right tortilla for enchiladas? Should I use flour instead?

As an aside, I'm looking for a recipe for enchiladas like those I get in Mexican restaurants - a sturdy tortilla encasing a hefty amount of cheese topped with a smattering of additional cheese and a thin, red enchilada sauce.


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  1. I've never made enchiladas with corn tortillas, and never seen a recipe that called for them. Corn tortillas are more delicate than flour and I bet the oil broke them down.

    I'd use flour next time, they always work for me!

    As for your other question... I make my at home version of this lunch I get at my favorite Mexican place. Get your casserole dish and pour enough enchilada sauce (canned, packaged, jarred) or salsa to cover the dish lightly. Then fill slightly warmed flour tortillas with cheese and some sauteed onion, roll 'em up, and put them seam side down in the dish. Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas. Then top with more cheese. Put into the oven until the cheese and sauce gets bubbly. While that's cooking, I fry an egg for each enchilada, over medium, just a little runny yolk. Take the enchiladas from the oven and top with an egg - so yummy! It's great with some rice that's seasoned with chicken broth.

    3 Replies
    1. re: drgnflychic

      Actually my favorite enchilada recipe calls for corn tortillas, and that's what I always use; my recipe calls for frying them, but I prefer spraying both sides with pam and heating in a 325 or so oven for 10 minutes, till softened, then I fill them. Mine absolutely don't disintegrate--


      1. re: drgnflychic

        I've never seen an enchilada in a restaurant, even pathetic ones and "tex-mex" ones, nor in a recipe and especially never, ever, ever in Mexico that was made with anything BUT a corn tortilla. If it's made with a flour tortilla it is not an enchilada.

        1. re: laylag

          I agree any Mexican enchilada I've ever seen or eaten was made out of corn tortillas.

      2. Enchiladas work best with freshly made tortillas IMO. Also, a lot of Mexican recipes don't bake tortillas after filling. The Diane Kennedy one I make for instaance calls for dipping a fresh tortilla in raw sauce and then briefly frying them, filling them and serving with pickled veggies and crema and queso fresco.

        1. I make enchiladas with corn tortillas. They don't disintegrate but they are very soft when they come out of the oven and have soaked up some of the sauce. Perhaps you baked them for too long? They should be heated through but as everything is cooked before you bake them (at least in my recipe it is), it doesn't take long.

          1. Enchiladas are traditionally made with corn rather than flour tortillas.

            You need to fry the tortillas in oil first to help them hold together. It also sounds like you may have cooked the enchiladas too long -- they should only be put in the oven until the filling is heated through and the cheese melted. Or, possibly, the sauce you used was too wet -- I checked the recipe on the linked website, and it called for "salsa" rather than enchilada sauce.

            Enchilada sauce is predominantly chile rather than tomato-based. Believe it or not, some hounds start with a canned enchilada sauce. Here's a link to a thread with some recommended brands: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/301562

            If you want to go with a homemade sauce, here's a link to a recent thread with some recipes:

            1 Reply
            1. re: DanaB

              Thank you for the comment about corn vs. flour. An enchilada made with a flour tortilla seems like a burrito to me.

              I fry my corn tortillas until a bit leathery but still flexible before dipping in the sauce. The enchiladas i grew up eating were the southern Az. style called Sonoran enchiladas. Instead of being filled and rolled they were stacked, fry enchilada, dip in chili sauce, put on plate top with cheese and chopped onion repeat until you have a stack of 3-4 garnish with chopped lettuce place in a hot oven while you fry and egg. Put the egg on top of the stack and eat.

              For rolled filled enchiladas i do the same frying until slightly leathery, then dip in sauce, add filling and roll and place in a baking dish snugy side by sade and bake just until piping hot. Don't let them stand around too long or they will get soggy and if you want more chili sauce on them, heat it on the stove and pour on the extra after baking.

            2. I looked at the recipe and was a bit baffled by the frying method for the tortillas. I'd check out, as someone mentions above, Diana Kennedy's books. Me, I don't worry about how much oil I might use in the pan. Get the oil nice and hot (corn oil for me), in with the corn tortilla, 2 secs, flip, 2 secs out, in with the next. drain on paper towels, maybe press on the towelling a bit to remove more oil. They are never greasy this way. As Candy says, leathery is just right.

              1. Thank you for your replies. A few of you mentioned that I could have overcooked the dish which then made the tortillas soggy. I think that might have been the problem. I assembled the dish during the day and didn't bake it until the evening so I added about 15 minutes to the cooking time in order to compensate for the chill from the fridge.

                I also think the sauce recipe was way too thick and soupy - I prefer a thinner, smoother sauce and not much of it. This recipe had the enchiladas literally drowning in sauce.

                I still have 24 corn tortillas left and a husband who is on a mission for good cheese enchiladas, so I'll try making this again soon.

                2 Replies
                1. re: SarahEats

                  That was exactly the problem. good enchiladas are not a make ahead dish. They are for the here and now.

                  1. re: SarahEats

                    If you assemble enchiladas ahead of time and refrigerate, that is a guarantee that your tortillas will be disintegrating by the time you eat. They have been sitting absorbing sauce all day, and then it all gets baked in on top of that.

                  2. I think Candy nailed it when she mentioned frying the corn tortillas "until a bit leathery but still flexible." It may take a few tries to determine this. If you don't fry them long enough, your enchiladas will turn out mushy. If you fry them too long, they'll be too stiff to roll up without cracking them. Also, don't crowd them too closely together when baking them.

                    1. I love enchiladas and make them all the time. I use regular grocery store corn tortillas. I used to fry them in a little oil first but for quite a few years now I've just warmed them in the microwave for about a minute [4 at a time spaced out over the plate] then dunk them in the sauce that is warming in a skillet. Fill, roll, place on pan [so close they're touching], spoon over a little more sauce and repeat. I've sometimes had them fall apart during the dunking process but not too often and they almost never fall apart after baking. I have to make sure the ends get enough sauce or they get too hard in the baking.

                      Funny how we do things differently - huh?

                      1. A Texan friend of mine who makes yummy enchiladas dips the corn tortillas (for just a couple of seconds!) in a bit of hot stock instead of frying them. It seems to warm and soften them up well without getting mushy. As a past dinner guest I can vouch that the end product is delicious.

                        1. It's been said before but I'll say it again: Dip the corn tortilla into hot oil for a couple of seconds then dip them in some enchilada sauce. Proceed to roll.

                          I have had problems with some brands falling apart easier than others and I think it may be due more to freshness than enything else. Also, I've never had any luck using previously frozen corn tortillas.

                          1. Same thing happened to me; totally disintegrated!
                            So the next time I skipped fry/heat/dip, whatever you want to call it), step and just dipped my cold tortillas in hot enchilada sauce, filled and rolled. Worked perfectly. The oil step is absolutely not necessary.