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HELP! HOW TO MAKE TACO SHELLS CRISP

The Drama Queen Apr 10, 2011 10:20 AM

I prefer to make my own tacos but have a problem getting the tortillas to crisp up. I like corn torillas as opposed to flour but when I heat them in the microwave, or in a skillet, they come out soft. I want to make them crispy like you get in a Mexican restaurant. How do they do it? How do YOU do it?

I have the little taco stands for easy filling but when I place the tortilla in the stand the tops flop over. Help!

  1. Bada Bing Apr 10, 2011 11:53 AM

    For volume, I sometimes use a method taken from (I think) a Cooks Illustrated write up. Spray or rub the best corn tortillas you can get with oil, salt them; then bake them at 400 or so on a half-sheet pan for a few minutes on each side, and when they've started to firm up enough to hold a shape, form them as you like and then bake a bit more. It would be ideal if you had oven-proof molds.

    I don't go for full cracker-crispy, but they're definitely not soft. And you can cook up to half a dozen per sheet pan.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Bada Bing
      mamachef Apr 10, 2011 01:12 PM

      Hey, I like this, especially using a mister. Will try. thank you!

      1. re: mamachef
        The Drama Queen Apr 10, 2011 02:06 PM

        Well I'll be jiggered!!! Both methods worked perfectly. Fried the first one in a little corn oil, then blotted it with a paper towel. Quickly folded then put in the stand to cool and shape.

        Baked the second one by brushing with corn oil , baked for 7 mintues at 375. Blotted it then did the same thing. Both were just perfectly crisp, not cracking and delicious. I've never salted my tortillas before and couldn't believe how much better they tasted.

        The differences were that the fried tortilla retained more oil than the baked one, but the baked tortilla was a little chewier. Lesson learned: when you have a problem, go to Chowhound. Thanks to all for your help.

        1. re: The Drama Queen
          Bada Bing Apr 10, 2011 02:40 PM

          Thanks for reporting back with results. That's terrific to establish two effective methods.

          1. re: The Drama Queen
            mamachef Apr 10, 2011 03:37 PM

            Awesome! Thank you for letting us know! (oh, and isn't it something about that little sprinkle of salt that bada bing remembered to tell you? it really does make all the difference, dunnit?)

        2. re: Bada Bing
          maplesugar Apr 10, 2011 05:06 PM

          I just baked corn tortillas this way & it worked fantastic!

          I don't have a taco stand (dunno if I could easily find one up here) so instead I used the rack for our roasting pan (that previously held the pulled pork that's going in the tortillas) baked them for 5 minutes, and stood them in the rack and baked them for about another 7-8 min (til they started to lightly brown).

          Thanks!

          1. re: maplesugar
            Bada Bing Apr 10, 2011 05:31 PM

            Wow, I cannot believe that I never thought of using my roasting rack. It would really do the job. Thanks in return!

            1. re: maplesugar
              The Drama Queen Apr 10, 2011 05:46 PM

              maplesugar, I don't know where you live but these are available through Amazon.com.
              http://www.amazon.com/Taco-Stand-Up-S...
              I bought them a couple of weeks ago and they work perfectly. They lock together to store so you won't lose any of them and the look great on individual plates.

               
              1. re: The Drama Queen
                maplesugar Apr 10, 2011 08:03 PM

                Thanks, I live in Central Alberta Canada... 1.5hrs north of Calgary. If we start making these more often I could probably order one from amazon.ca For now the roasting rack worked pretty well - more rustic than uniform but still darn tasty. :)

                1. re: maplesugar
                  maplesugar Apr 10, 2011 08:09 PM

                  Trying again to post a pic of my results....

                   
          2. mamachef Apr 10, 2011 11:36 AM

            DQ: the best method I've found for this is to heat about 1/4" oil in an 8" omelette or saute pan until it shimmers, and then BRIEFLY immerse the tortilla in it, holding said tortie with tongs. You should be able to tap the tortilla itself; it will just start to brown at the edges and you'll be able to "feel" and even hear that you've achieved a crisp finish. Do be careful. Slightly overdone torts. can taste marvelous because of the caramelization factor, but 10 seconds for these is the difference between wonderfully nutty and just flat-out burnt. So, really no more than 45 seconds to a minute per shell should get you the results you're wanting. Oh, and I piggyback on c oliver for lard; lends wonderful flavor and a texture that oil just does not afford.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mamachef
              The Drama Queen Apr 10, 2011 11:47 AM

              Thanks so much for you response. I will follow your advice mamachef and see how they turn out. I really don't want to fry them unless I have to since I don't want the extra calories but here is something I found on the way to looking up the Norpro Taco Press suggested by junglekitte:

              http://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Metalli...

              This just might be what I'm looking for. Warm in microwave, then lightly spritz with oil then bake.
              However I have to admit that restaurants fry theirs too and the taste is wonderful.

               
              1. re: The Drama Queen
                mamachef Apr 10, 2011 12:24 PM

                That's why you want the oil HOT, DQ, and the immersion time short. Done correctly, these won't drip grease at all and will have the texture you want; not shatteringly crisp, but crunchy-edged and "bitey" in the middle. (I have a personal horror of food that drips oil too.) If the oil's not hot enough, the deep frying process (which involves the oil's heat pulling the moisture from the product being fried, not the oil itself actually cooking the product at first) doesn't begin immediately, the tortilla soaks up oil; ergo. This could well all be stuff you know, in which case I apologize - I just like to give the reason for why things work the way they work.
                I do like that little gadget, though. I'd try it.
                So yep, hot oil, quick fry, and hey, if you need to? Blot those little corny devils. :)

                1. re: mamachef
                  The Drama Queen Apr 10, 2011 12:51 PM

                  Okay both the suggestions from mamachef and Bada Bing (oh I love that) are worth a try. I have a huge package of tortillas in my fridge and am going to try both methods this afternoon. I'll let you know. Thank you both so much for taking the time.

            2. c oliver Apr 10, 2011 11:10 AM

              I fry them in lard. I don't want them crisp like "shells" but I could make them that way.

              1. junglekitte Apr 10, 2011 10:54 AM

                Fry them and use this:

                http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-1061-Tac...

                1. I used to know how to cook... Apr 10, 2011 10:36 AM

                  Hi,

                  Or, you can buy the kind that are already fried and crisp.

                  Lucy

                  1. DiningDiva Apr 10, 2011 10:29 AM

                    Fry them

                    1. e
                      escondido123 Apr 10, 2011 10:22 AM

                      If you want them crunchy crisp you have to fry them in oil. You can either do that before you fill them or after. Microwave will never make that happen.

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