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Corn tortillas...soften in oil or not?

Hiya...I'm getting ready to make a batch of green chile chicken enchilladas. Do you need to soften the tortillas in oil or not? Where I live (northern NM), everyone fries the tortillas briefly in oil prior to stacking them into the enchillada casserole. Is this necessary? Can you just warm them in the m-wave or oven prior to assembling the enchilladas? What do you all think?

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  1. When making rolled-up enchiladas, I find that dipping the corn tortillas in hot oil helps to keep them from breaking up. Just warming in microwave or oven doesn't soften them up enough. If you're making some kind of stacked enchilada casserole, you can probably do without. The oil does add flavor (and calories) though.

    1. You CAN just warm them without oil, and they usually soften up enough to work with. And if they break once or twice, it's not the end of the world anyway. The only difference is that if you dip them in the oil, less of your enchilada sauce will soak into the tortillas when you cook them, and they won't get as soggy.

      1. I used to use oil - in the interest of health I now use my bamboo steamer. Bamboo steamer works really well especially for fish tacos. With the enchilada - the oil does help stop the mushies

        1 Reply
        1. re: coastie

          I agree that the oil, while not essential, makes a meaningful difference in the finished dish.

        2. I used to steam but recently, I purchased a ceramic tortilla warmer--you put the tortillas in it, put the pot in a 300 degree oven and 7-10 minutes later, the tortillas are pliant (and edible.) I have never found that the oil method was much of an advantage...

          1. When I am not concerned about calories or mess, I soften in oil. When I am concerned about calories and mess, I griddle briefly on each side (dry cast iron pan or a griddle, depending on how many I am making). I prefer the flavor of dry heat to the microwave "steaminess". I think that the fried in oil is superior in terms of flavor and authenticity, but any enchilada is better than no enchilada!

            1 Reply
            1. re: dkenworthy

              I often simply throw my corn tortillas onto the gas flame and flip them a few times until they're pliant and lightly charred. I prefer to fry them briefly in oil, but sometimes I just don't want to bother.